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5 things to know about law firm risk & compliance

Over the last few years, there has been a growing demand for the law firm risk & compliance skillset which has created many career opportunities within the legal sector. Are you looking for your next role in the legal field? Here are 5 things to know about law firm risk & compliance. 

What is law firm risk & compliance?

The legal profession is a highly regulated industry in which solicitors, legal services providers and clients must adhere to certain professional standards, externally enforced regulations, and legislation. The main purpose of the Risk & Compliance department within a law firm is to ensure that the firm is compliant with these obligations and to mitigate risk for the firm.

Law firm compliance teams generally consist of compliance professionals being either qualified or non qualified. Over the last several years we have seen less of a criteria for these professionals to be qualified, typical roles within this industry are the following but not limited to General Counsel, Head of Business Intake, Compliance managers, Compliance Lawyer, analysts, officers and assistants.

There is a broad range of sub-sectors within compliance and some firms like to employ specialists who might, for example specialize in AML and Conflicts whilst other firms (generally those with a smaller compliance team) are able to offer broader roles encompassing many elements of law firm risk & compliance.

What are the main areas of risk & compliance within a law firm?

Within Law Firm Risk & Compliance there are many subsectors but we mainly see the following areas being Conflicts of Interest, Anti-Money Laundering and Client Due Diligence, PI, commercial contracts/ terms with risk focus, Data Protection, DAC6, auditing, claims & complaints and many more

R&C Growing

We have seen an ever-increasing demand on this skillset within law firms over the last several years. This has happened due to a variety of reasons including economic, political and regulatory developments which have impacted the way Law Firms operate.

Firms now have dedicated teams to deal with compliance related work which has created many interesting career opportunities within the legal profession. Compliance professionals carry out high quality work without the pressures of fee earning and business development whilst working on variety of matters, there is also clear progression and individuals are able to carve out a clear career path outside of the traditional partnership route.

Alternative career path for law graduates and fee earners?

Some of the larger international law firms have established compliance teams with many law graduates seeing Law Firm Compliance as an excellent alternative to pursuing a traditional career path within the legal profession.

With only around 25% of law graduates securing training contracts every year, a career within risk and compliance gives graduates the opportunity to draw upon their prior legal experience, while working in a sophisticated legal environment carrying out complex, varied and interesting work with a genuine clear path of progression.

Many junior compliance professionals do go on to secure training contracts further down the line, and their experience of having previously worked within compliance often helps them to stand out from the competition. In addition to this, many individuals who eventually go on to qualify move back into Law Firm Risk & Compliance and further carve out their compliance career as compliance lawyers/ risk lawyers.

Can experienced fee earners move into compliance?

Due to the candidate shortage market we have seen in across the UK, many law firms have taken the initiative to create compliance “training” roles, in which experienced fee earners can transition into an in-house compliance role without having prior experience within this area.

Generally, individuals who have qualified into any practice area are eligible to move into entry level Compliance Lawyer role as long as these individuals show a genuine interest to work within this space. If you are looking for high quality work, with better work/ life balance and a clear route of progression then Law Firm Risk & Compliance is certainly a route to consider for both qualified solicitors and law graduates.


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