Why Use a Regulated Law Firm?

About Pritchetts Law

Here at Pritchetts Law, we offer all the benefits of being a regulated law firm and, as solicitors, provide you with advice that you can trust. As an added bonus, by keeping our costs down, we can pass on savings to our clients and provide our services at a much more competitive rate than many solicitors and larger/non-virtual law firms that provide the same services.

We think that's a win-win for our clients: all the cost savings of many of the unregulated advisors and consultants, and all the protection of instructing regulated solicitors.

Solicitor vs Legal Consultant

Pritchetts Law LLP ( Pritchetts ) is a law firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ( SRA ) . You’ll find details of our SRA registration here (our number is 647155) and you’ll see our SRA kite mark at the foot of our home page.

When we provide services to our clients, we act as solicitors. The SRA defines solicitors as:

“professionals who provide legal services across a wide range of areas. Only people we approve can call themselves solicitors. They must be qualified, behave ethically and follow our rules.”

This is quite different from “legal consultancy” businesses, who offer their advisory services in an unregulated manner. This can be confusing for those who are trying to procure legal services, not least when some of those businesses set themselves up with trading names that incorporate the word “law”, which may lead consumers to assume that they are buying a regulated service.

When you are deciding who to instruct, it is important to understand the differences between using solicitors like us, who are operating via a regulated law firm, and people offering their services via a legal consultancy business.

We understand that you need to make a sensible commercial decision. We are proud of our lean structure and virtual operating model, which enables us to charge much lower rates than our big law firm competitors.

How Does a Regulated Law Firm Differ from a Legal Consultancy Business?

There are some key distinctions between the setup of a regulated law firm compared with that of a legal consultancy business. For example, only regulated law firms, like ourselves, consist of qualified solicitors bound to act in accordance with the SRA Code of Conduct. In addition, we carry high levels of professional indemnity insurance, our advice can be legally privileged and, in the unlikely event that you have a complaint, you can refer the matter to the independent Legal Ombudsman.

These distinctions can make a big difference to clients’ levels of confidence and security in the service that they procure. We’ve explained a little more about them below.

Insurance cover

  • Regulated law firm

    As solicitors, we maintain high and mandatory levels of professional indemnity insurance cover. In accordance with the SRA Code of Conduct , and what we believe to be the best interests of our clients, we maintain such insurance to a total level of £3 million . This insurance includes special protections , such as if the firm goes out of business, which are deliberately designed to offer reassurance to solicitors’ clients.

    We are happy to provide details of our insurer on request, and we provide further detail in our standard Terms of Business. We are also willing to take out additional cover where required in relation to specific transactions or projects.

  • Legal consultancy business

    Legal consultancies usually provide a much lower level of professional indemnity insurance cover and cap their liability to clients at that level. In addition, their insurance does not have to include the special protections available to clients who use regulated law firms.

    It is therefore important for you to carry out due diligence to understand your risk when using that type of advisor.

  • Our view

    Since founding our business in 2008, we haven’t had any legal claims made against us. However, although we’re not the type of lawyers to harp on about the large fines that are possible under the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ), or the potential for compensation payments, it can happen. Making a sensible procurement choice when you appoint your lawyers includes understanding your insurance position should anything go wrong.

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Legal privilege

  • Regulated law firm

    Advice that we provide as solicitors is often covered by “legal privilege” . In simple terms, this means that correspondence between a client and a solicitor can, if it is confidential and for the purposes of legal advice, be withheld from a court or third party in connection with legal proceedings.

  • Legal consultancy business

    Advice that you receive from non-regulated advisors, or legal consultants, is not covered by legal privilege . Therefore, their advice may be disclosable in evidence in the context of a legal claim.

  • Our view

    At Pritchetts Law, we do not advise on contentious matters, but there have been many occasions when we have deemed it important to our clients that the advice we give is “for their eyes only”. We believe that it is often in the best interests of our clients to be able to decide how the advice given will be used.

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Independent complaints process

  • Regulated law firm

    If you are unhappy with the service that you receive from us as solicitors, you are entitled to raise an independent complaint with the Legal Ombudsman. In short, the Legal Ombudsman can order us to refund or reduce our fees, pay you compensation, carry out extra work needed to put things right, apologise and give back documents.

  • Legal consultancy business

    If you are unhappy with the services of legal consultants, that independent complaints process is not open to you because legal consultancy is not a regulated business. Your only option would be to raise your complaint with the legal consultant directly.

  • Our view

    At Pritchetts, we would always ask our clients to speak to us first if they have any concerns so that we can resolve them together, but happily, we have had zero complaints since founding our business over a decade ago.

    The fact that we’ve never received any complaints might lead you to think that having recourse to an independent complaints process isn’t such a big deal. However, one of the reasons that we’ve had no complaints is that we’ve always had to work to such highly regulated standards.

    In addition, many clients like having the peace of mind that, in the event of a complaint, there is an independent third party to consider it and help to resolve it. This avoids the cost and hassle of having to take an unregulated business to arbitration – or to court – if you are dissatisfied with the quality of the advice you have received or the amounts that you may have unexpectedly been invoiced.

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Code of conduct

  • Regulated law firm

    As solicitors, we must follow the SRA Code of Conduct , which is a set of rules that relate to the conduct of our business and of ourselves as solicitors. It covers things like maintaining trust and acting fairly, maintaining our own competence to advise you, avoiding conflicts of interest, and maintaining confidentiality. If we didn’t follow that code, we would end up in big trouble, with the likely result that we would no longer be able to work as solicitors.

  • Legal consultancy business

    Legal consultancies are not subject to the SRA Code of Conduct . Of course, it is in the best interests of “legal consultants” to act honestly so that they retain your trust and business. However, they are not subject to rules that require them to do so, nor to external checks and balances to ensure that this is maintained.

  • Our view

    At Pritchetts Law, our clients can rely on our regulated status when deciding how to safely procure services and ensure the validity and reliability of the people who are advising them.

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Cost Savings at Pritchetts Law

Practising as a regulated law firm entails certain extra costs to our practice, including:

  • Annual payments (including a proportion of the practice’s turnover) to the SRA.
  • Increased professional indemnity insurance costs.
  • Management time dedicated to prescribed regulatory administration.

Many legal consultancy businesses highlight a supposed cost benefit to their business (and therefore potentially the benefit of those savings being passed to the client) of not setting up in a regulated manner.

At Pritchetts Law, we believe that the extra costs that we are subject to are a benefit and assurance to clients, rather than a downside. In addition, we can offer cost savings of our own:

  • Our practice is set up as a virtual law firm . We do not have the costs, overheads and administrative burden of running expensive offices , as many other law firms – and indeed legal consultancies – may have.
  • We run leanly as a regulated legal practice . In fact, many of our regulated practice costs are minimal because:
    • We do not operate a client account . This means that we bill our clients for agreed fees and services provided. We do not otherwise hold client money (as would be the case in, for example, probate or conveyancing transactions). Thus, we do not bear any of the costs and administration of operating such an account.
    • We carry out legal services in the fields of data protection, privacy, technology and commercial contracts law to a wide range of private, public and charitable sector clients. We do not provide reserved legal services (which relate to things like litigation, probate and property matters). This reduces our administrative burden and significantly reduces the cost of obtaining insurance cover for our practice.

To find out more about how our team of experienced specialist solicitors can help your business, get in touch . We’d love to hear from you!

Contact Us

Get in Touch

Pritchetts Law LLP
Hillside
35 Westbury Hill
Bristol
BS9 3AG
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 117 307 0266
info@pritchettslaw.com

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Pritchetts Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales (company no. OC413975) and authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA no. 647155). "Partner" refers to a member of Pritchetts Law LLP.
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