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Compliance Officer for Legal Practice – treading through treacle?

The role of COLP is without doubt an isolated one, its introduction some 6 years ago sent a ripple of trepidation across the legal profession. It was and still is the job no one wants, but one everyone has an opinion on. The role is full of contradictions and interpretations which leave your COLP vulnerable to mistake. As we move toward an increase in principles-based regulation does the role of COLP become more difficult? The answer is without doubt yes.

Is there a point when a COLP will say, I have had enough of treading through treacle?

The creation of COLP was a clever move. Who else is best placed to report a firm failing in its regulatory compliance than a lawyer riddled with the fear of being struck off and fined if they don’t do so, and repercussions from their firm if they do? Over the last few years many firms have begun to realise the difficulty in that balancing act and are embracing the expertise and sound risk and regulatory management advice a good COLP can give. What highlights the question of a shelf life are the firms that do not embrace the role and attempt to thwart the decision making the COLP is responsible for – that is when the job is impossible.

A COLP treading through treacle is the COLP you want to keep, they are the ones who take each decision carefully and thoughtfully and find their way through the lack of prescriptive regulation with an inbuilt sat nav.

In the words of Feargal Sharkey – a good ‘COLP’ these days is hard to find………


This article was written by Holly Heath, RDP Solicitor and Compliance Officer for Legal Practice.

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