In the early 1970’s a number of solicitors, concerned that the growth in the profession had led practitioners to become more isolated, set up the SAS. It was a bold step and ahead of its time, and anticipated similar schemes subsequently established by other professions. The scheme aimed to build on what was already in place in many communities – experienced solicitors offering help, guidance and advice to those colleagues in difficulties. Solicitors who were experts in their field were persuaded to join its panel. Confidentiality between panel members and their solicitor clients was guaranteed and the first consultation was always free of charge.
More than 40 years later, the SAS now has approximately 80 members on its panel. Its aims, however, remain the same – to offer expert, confidential advice to fellow solicitors, their families and employees, on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional.
The first consultation remains free of charge and thereafter the member will discuss any appropriate remuneration with the person seeking help. There is no obligation to retain the panel member who gave you advice, you are free to instruct any solicitor of your choice.
The Objects Clause of the Scheme states:
“The SAS aims to serve the solicitors’ profession by providing solicitors and their staff with initial independent and confidential advice and assistance in respect of professional, business or personal problems. In doing so it seeks to enable individuals requiring help to resolve their problems.”
In this section you will find guidance relating to a number of the more common problems regarding which users of the SAS frequently require assistance.
(Practice issues, COLP/COFA issues, Authorisation Issues)
(Practicing Certificate issues & conditions, Self Reports, SRA investigations, SDT referrals, and breaches of the accounts rules)
Fraud & Crime
Voluntary Closures or disposals of practice
Complaints & Negligence
SAS members are available in most areas of the country, but in any event are always available to give advice over the telephone to those who prefer not to have to deal with someone who is local or on a face to face basis.
We would encourage you to contact the panel member of your choice, direct. Should you wish to do so you can either click here on the panel members tab on this web site, which will provide details and experience of individual members or you can print off and use the pdf of our panel member leaflet which can be found here..
Although there is a general feeling that the rule breakers and the dishonest should be left to their fate, the philosophy of SAS is that all solicitors, their families, and members of their staff who have a professional or personal problem should at least have available one hour’s free time to discuss their problem with a SAS member, even if the only proper advice that can be given is that they should report themselves! It should also be appreciated that SAS members deal with many matters other than misconduct and breach of the rules.
The philosophy of SAS is that it has a valuable, preventative function that will enable solicitors to seek guidance at a very early stage before a breach or contravention either occurs or becomes more serious, It offers the individual the opportunity of avoiding the serious consequences that could arise if either the Solicitors Regulation Authority and/or the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal become involved.
Taking advice from a SAS member does not mean that you are obliged to retain that solicitor and you are free to instruct any solicitor of your choice.
The SAS does have a complaints procedure if for any reason a complaint has to be made, please contact us.