SRA declares war on toxic cultures with new guidance
Toxic cultures are closely related to poor ethical behaviours. When a person is subjected to bullying, harassment or unreasonable pressure they are more likely to get themselves into regulatory hot water.
Under enough pressure, the act of backdating a document, misleading a client, or hiding a mistake can seem like the only way out for an otherwise ethical lawyer.
Through its recent Thematic Review, involving responses from over 200 solicitors, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has recognised a serious problem in law firms.
Around 25% of those surveyed reported negative workplace cultures, including overwork, intolerable pressure to meet targets and bullying.
The result is a new formal Guidance Note (Workplace environment: risks of failing to protect and support colleagues), which sets out the SRA’s concerns and expectations of those it regulates.
This is a significant change of tack for a regulator often criticised for going after individual wrongdoers, including very junior lawyers, whilst ignoring toxic employers and unsupportive managers.
Is now the time to boost your information security with ISO27001?
It’s no wonder that the accreditation bodies are seeing an uptick in the number of law firms exploring ISO27001. Cybercrime has reached industrial scale and law firms are a prime target.
In this article, we cover:
- What is ISO27001?
- GDPR compliance
- Relevance to law firms
- How to go about ISO27001 accreditation
News and Guidance
Law Society Updates
- New guidance – Workplace environment: risks of failing to protect and support colleagues
- Case studies – Workplace environment: risks of failing to protect and support colleagues
- Updated guidance – Advising on leasehold provisions including ground rent clauses
- Gazette – Solicitors oppose SRA’s role as prosecutor and judge: In its response to the SRA consultation on increasing its fining powers to £25,000, the Law Society has come out in favour of a modest increase (between £5,000 and £7,500), but strongly opposes the proposed 12x increase for fears on lack of transparency and scrutiny. The Society also points out that the change would disproportionately affect smaller firms.
- Consultation – Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules: Against a backdrop of increasing delays, the LeO is consulting on significant amendments to the scheme rules, including a reduction in the limitation period for escalating complaints from six years to one year.
How to conduct Client Due Diligence
On Wednesday this week, Jonathon, Rachael and Carly talked through the main issues around CDD, including:
- the Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG) guidance
- what CDD should look like in practice
- how technology can help
- how the CDD fits into the firm wide risk assessment
Watch the recording – Access Passcode: Zy^7y9Pk – Available for 30 days
- Gladstones Solicitors Limited – high volume debt recovery firm fined £15,000 for donating over £35,000 unallocated client money to charity, without properly investigating where those funds should have been allocated.
- Christopher David Waddingham – rebuked for giving an incorrect undertaking to a lender regarding client identification, and failing to protect the borrower client’s interests.
- Ashi Patel – fined £1,000 for allowing the client account to be used as a banking facility and failing to act on appropriate authority of a corporate client’s directors.
- Mohammed Shokat – non-lawyer barred from the profession (Section 43 Order) for dishonestly transferring a £50,000 coronavirus bounce back loan to himself.
- Aaron Playle – non-lawyer director disqualified from law firm management and employment (Section 99 Order) for lack of integrity, following a £120,000 civil claim relating to unauthorised payments and secret commissions.
- Lauren Pemberton – fined £1,000 following drink driving conviction.
- David Johnson – struck off for failing to pay up to £800,000 in disbursements over seven years, using the cash to prop up a failing personal injury practice.