A Guide to Becoming a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice

By Tuesday, July 22, 2014 0 , Permalink

A Compliance Officer for Legal Practice, otherwise referred to as a COLP, is the person who is responsible for the whole of the company’s SRA requirements. It’s the COLP’s job to report any failures to the SRA, either straight away or on an annual basis. The COLP has a lot of responsibility, so if this is how you want to further your career then you need to be prepared. Read on for more information:


In order to become a COLP, you need to be nominated by your solicitor’s practice. Let it be known that you’d like to take over the role when the time comes, and you can set the wheels turning to make it a reality. However, you won’t necessarily be guaranteed a role once you’ve been nominated. You need to be approved by the SRA first, which you can do by sending off an approval form including information like:


  • Your name and SRA number.
  • The reason for the change of COLP, if the previous COLP is unable to carry out their duties.


If you don’t already have an account with mySRA, you’ll need to get one set up before you can apply. Your application will usually be reviewed, and either accepted or declined within a 30 day timeframe. If the application is coming from overseas, then it may take longer than 30 days. You won’t be able to begin the role of COLP until you have received confirmation via email from the SRA.


If for whatever reason the usual COLP has to take sudden leave, then you can apply for emergency temporary approval. This will allow you to undertake the role of a COLP temporarily.


If you have successfully been approved as a COLP, whether temporarily or permanently, then you need to know how to go about doing this job to your full ability. There are usually 3 things COLPs should do before they start fee earning for the day, including carrying out a spot check. Once you have completed the 3 tasks, you can then move on to your other tasks and responsibilities. All COLPs need a compliance plan, including:


  • Defined governance arrangements.
  • Appropriate checks.
  • A system for ensuring deadlines are met.
  • A system for managing and monitoring risks.
  • File reviews.
  • Systems for training staff.


If for whatever reason you decide that becoming a COLP was not for you, you can withdraw from your role. If you’ve simply changed your mind about a nomination, you can withdraw this too. You’ll need to contact the SRA straight away by email, making sure you include the following information:


  • Your name and SRA ID.
  • The reason for your withdrawal.
  • The date you wish the withdrawal to become effective.


You’ll then be contacted in order to discuss the matter in more detail.


The person who undertakes a COLP role needs to be suitable for the role. If you feel you are unsuitable, you’ll need to declare these reasons to your firm and the SRA.


A COLP has lots of responsibility, but it can be a rewarding job. Thanks for reading!

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