Birmingham solicitor advocate Jayne Willetts has set up the city’s first dedicated professional regulation law firm.
Jayne Willetts & Co will offer legal advice to legal service providers such as solicitors, barristers, legal executives, costs draftsmen and licensed conveyancers, as well as to other professionals facing regulatory challenges whether for misconduct or in setting up new business models. The firm will also provide advocacy services before regulatory tribunals or conduct committees, such as the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, as well as before the higher courts.
Ms Willetts, described as “a formidable defence advocate” in Chambers’ legal directory, has built a strong professional regulation practice over the last three years as a partner at Townshends, and previously at Hammonds (formerly Edge & Ellison). She has decided to go solo to develop a niche offering. The move was also prompted by the rise in misconduct cases and the introduction of alternative business structures next year, which will result in additional regulatory burdens for all professionals, especially law firms.
Ms Willetts is also a member of the Disciplinary Proceedings Panel for the SRA, advising the organisation on tribunal cases and appearing on its behalf in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and appeal courts. She is also Legal Adviser to the Conduct Committee of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists.
Ms Willetts is joined at the firm’s Jewellery Quarter base by consultant Matthew Moore, who advises law firms on practice management and professional compliance issues.
Ms Willetts said: “The recession has seen a rise in misconduct cases, in particular mortgage fraud and the increase in the use of client funds to subsidise ailing practices. Some firms are also pushing the boundaries of regulation in an attempt to secure more work, whilst others are trying to establish alternative business structures in advance of their introduction in October next year.
“The weight of regulation also means that some firms are struggling to get to grips with their responsibilities. As well as defending and prosecuting firms, through Matthew’s work we aim to educate them so they don’t get into trouble in the first place.”
Ms Willetts, a partner at Hammonds for 16 years, has clocked up a number of career firsts. She was made Birmingham Law Society’s first female president in 2000.