Monday 14 November 2011

The End of Representative Bodies

Back in April my professional body and that of at least some of you made an announcement seeking any interest for a specialist interest group for SOLO practitioners. I reported it here. In the October issue of the CIPA Journal the Business Practice Committee report that the suggestion is not viable. There is also an announcement that says:
In the April 2011 Journal, page 206, we asked for views from those practising as sole practitioners or in small firms, as to whether CIPA and ITMA could help establish some form of support network.
We received a handful of positive responses, but the overall level of interest was, we feel, insufficient for the Institutes to set up a formal support scheme at this stage.
However, we remain open to suggestions from CIPA and ITMA members should there be a desire to organise something in the future.We will also do whatever we can to support such future initiatives, for example in the ways suggested in our April 2011 note.
In the meantime, we will continue to help individual practitioners who need guidance and support from their representative bodies. Advice on specific business practice issues can be sought directly from the Joint CIPA/ITMA Business Practice Committee; more general information is also available in the Business Practice Guidance Note which is available through the websites of both Institutes.
We would also urge those who work in small practices to join the CIPA and/or ITMA LinkedIn forums. These provide a good way of keeping in touch with, and sharing experiences with, other attorneys, and a convenient mechanism for raising questions and initiating discussions.
If you are ever in need of support or guidance from either CIPA or ITMA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either Mick Ralph ( or Keven Bader (
So where does this leave the SOLO practitioner in relation to our alleged representative body. Now that regulation has been separated out, we need to decide whether next year's subscription is really worth it.  Most of the work of CIPA and ITMA is carried out by volunteers drawn from the retired and larger firms and its not always at all representative of my thoughts on a topic. It certainly does not do a lot of canvassing of opinion amongst the membership. CIPA membership used to be essential to the student as a primary source of free professional education but all current educational offers are subject to a price tag. So will I pay to use the letters CPA next year?
If you are a member of CIPA what do you think


  1. This is not unlike the problems/discussions that those of us regulated by the SRA have. Do we bother to stay Solicitors (with all the regulatory obligations and insurance issues) or strike out on our own. What is the value of the brand (ITMA/SRA) to our practices. Should we set up a new grouping which gives us all the value of the open marketplace without the burdens of regulation? If you set up a new solo non-afficliated entity would people be willing to pay for group admin/website/database management/PR that would be required to promote the new concept or would it be everyone for themselves? Still pondering from my own (solicitor) perspective and would welcome any CIPA/ITMA thoughts.

  2. I am not proposing to go unregulated. The question is whether to carry on paying to be a member of CIPA. Goodness knows how the Law Society funds itself now but it doesnt charge aany subscriptions so I seem always to have been a member by default

  3. As a sole practitioner I have already withdrawn from CIPA on cost/benefit grounds, though I would have liked to remain a member and may return at a later date. Is it possible that the low interest was due to a lack of sole practitioners as members?

  4. Good point - it seems that the solicitors and bar have been smarter and have maintained a closed shop. Because the registers have always been separate from the Institutes it looks as if CIPA and ITMA may have troubles to come

  5. Filemot, I know a solicitor who is not a member of the Law Society. They may make it easy to be a member but I don't think it is compulsory. Of course, as a solicitor it is compulsory to be regulated by the SRA.

  6. However, Mark, you can operate from within an entity that is regulated by another regulator such as IPReg. When ABS really start to appear those entities may well favour non-SRA regulation. The SRA has the experience and if it could renew practising certificates for solicitors (which it cannot) I might have said competence. The problem is that it cannot do it concisely and this is a problem both for solicitors and the public