Legal insight: The role of the COFA

The requirement for all law firms to have compliance officers responsible for Legal Practice (COLP) and Finance and Administration (COFA) has been in place for almost seven years.

The COLP and COFA should be champions of risk management and compliance within a firm and will have ultimate responsibility for the firm’s systems and controls. The role of both is not just a title and being declared as ‘fit and proper’ by the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority – it is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

The interaction, clarity on shared responsibilities and communications with the wider firm are all critical in ensuring these roles are effective and live up to what they are designed to be and achieve.

In this series of insights, Helen Clayton outlines the key responsibilities of COFAs to help firms focus on their strategy of ensuring full compliance.

 

To summarise

No one should underestimate the role and responsibility of the COFA.

Solicitors should never have the belief that compliance is the sole responsibility of the COFA.

Balancing risk with compliance and practicalities will be key.

Ensuring file reviews and reviews of bank reconciliations are effective and understood is vital.

Maintaining a breaches register can prove to be a successful developmental tool in quality, mitigating risk and people engagement.

Regular training and education are vital.

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Helen Clayton
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