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The quest for regulatory equality series

On Demand Now

London

Part 1:The disproportionate impact of regulation on lawyers from BAME backgrounds

Leigh Day’s Regulatory and Disciplinary law team invites you to join us for two online debates looking at the disproportionate impact of regulation on lawyers from BAME* backgrounds. Our team acts for individuals and firms regulated by the SRA and recent experience suggests that the impact of regulation continues to be an issue. Although solicitors from BAME backgrounds make up only 21% of the profession, they make up around 50% of our enquirers with SRA issues.

The SRA’s Standards and Regulations 2019 include a new Principle requiring those it oversees to act “in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion” (EDI).

The SRA has duties under the Legal Services Act 2007 to encourage an “independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession”, so its decision to enshrine EDI values in an important regulatory rule shouldn’t be a surprise.

But how does the SRA setting such rules sit with the findings in 2014 of research commissioned by the SRA and conducted by Professor Gus John which found that SRA enforcement action disproportionately impacts lawyers from BAME backgrounds?

And will the SRA’s EDI statistics due for publication later this year show that it’s made any progress in addressing the problem?

In conjunction with Sally Brett (Head of EDI at the Law Society), Peter Herbert (Chair, Society of Black Lawyers), Angela Latta (Head of Regulatory Performance and Oversight, Legal Services Board), Sailesh Mehta (barrister, 18 Red Lion Chambers) and Dave Neita we'll be looking at the issue afresh.

Registration is now open for the first webinar at 4pm on 11 November 2020. The date for the second webinar will be confirmed once the SRA has published its updated EDI statistics.

Once registered, you will receive exclusive digital content, as well as a link inviting you to take part in a completely anonymous survey about your experience of the SRA. Further digital material will be made available between the two online debates.

 

Watch Part 1 here

Part 2: Disproportionality in the regulation of Global Majority lawyers – where are we now and what comes next?

Data published by the SRA in December 2020 shows that, in 2018/2019, solicitors from Global Majority backgrounds accounted for 26% of those named on concerns reported to the SRA, and 32% of the concerns taken forward to the investigation phase. This is despite making up only 18% of the practising population.

Following the success of our first event looking at this issue in November 2020, the second event in our series to look at the SRA’s updated data and consider some urgent questions:

  • What does this new data tell us about the progress made since the last review into this issue in 2014?
  • Is the data sufficient to answer key questions about the fairness of the SRA’s internal processes?
  • What steps can the SRA take to ensure that progress is made going forwards?
  • What steps can we, the profession, take to play our part?
Our expert panel, including Dave Neita (Chair), Professor Gus John, Jacqueline McKenzie, Angela Latta, Ranjit Sond, Gideon Habel and Emma Walker, looked closely at the SRA’s recently published statistics to assess where we are now and opening up discussion about what the profession, the SRA and other interest groups can do next to bring about meaningful change.

Watch Part 2 here

The Leigh Day R&D team story

Human rights law firm Leigh Day knows better than most what it is like to be in the regulator’s sights: between September 2014 and October 2018, it was the subject of a high-profile investigation and prosecution by the SRA.

Following a six-week hearing in 2017, the longest in the history of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, and an appeal by the SRA in 2018, all charges brought against Leigh Day and its lawyers were dismissed.

Now, the in-house solicitors responsible for the firm’s successful defence – who now make up Leigh Day’s Regulatory & Disciplinary team – help other legal professionals and their practices deal with their own regulatory queries and problems.

*We recognise that the use of the acronym BAME – indeed any moniker that seeks to group diverse peoples and experiences into a “neat” homogenous group – is imperfect and under increasing criticism. We understand and sympathise with these views. We use it here because it – and its predecessor, BME – reflects the terminology used by the SRA in collating and presenting its reports and statistics on the issue, and therefore has particular relevance to this subject area.

The R&D Team

Gideon Habel

Partner and head of regulatory and disciplinary department

Specialist regulatory and solicitors disciplinary lawyer.

Emma Walker

Associate solicitor

Facing an investigation? Specialist regulatory & disciplinary solicitor.