Professional discipline update October 2020
Welcome to our latest Regulatory & Disciplinary update
I hope that you’ve managed to have something of a break over the summer, whether at home or abroad, and that the onset of Autumn is being met with energy and optimism.
In this edition, in a break from our usual updates on regulatory, compliance and professional disciplinary issues, I’d like to tell you about the series of online events we’re holding this autumn and into the early part of 2021.
Partner and Head of Regulatory & Disciplinary
Our July 2020 update looked at SRA Principle 6 and the questions of fairness and inclusion in the legal profession. One aspect of this that our team has been particularly interested in over the last couple of years since our inception two years ago is the experience of solicitors from BAME* backgrounds of SRA investigation and enforcement proceedings.
It’s an issue that’s been on the SRA’s radar for over a decade now, with a series of reviews and reports through to 2014 highlighting the issue and looking for underlying causes. It’s also an issue that we have seen playing out in our own practice: while around 20% of the profession is from BAME backgrounds, an alarming 50% of our new client enquiries relating to SRA investigations come from practitioners from BAME backgrounds. There may be entirely benign reasons for this but it is, nonetheless, a statistic that has troubled us and one we fear may indicate continued challenges in the application of the SRA’s processes.
Earlier this year, the SRA confirmed that it would be publishing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statistics that would include data about the impact of its regulatory activities on practitioners from BAME backgrounds. We’ve recently learned that this is likely to happen in December or perhaps early next year. More recently, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has also announced that it is undertaking a review of its work to look specifically at whether minorities are treated more harshly when they come to be sanctioned if found guilty of professional misconduct.
Now, we’re holding a series of online debates, “The Quest for Regulatory Equality”, first looking at the issue afresh and then again in light of the SRA’s updated data, with panellists including Peter Herbert (Society of Black Lawyers) and Professor Gus John (author of the SRA’s most recent review on this issue in 2014). You can read more about the events and access exclusive content by clicking the link below.
I very much hope to see you there. In the meantime, stay safe and well, and have a great run in to the end of the year.
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September 2020 saw the team’s second birthday. We've thoroughly enjoyed the hard work that's been into developing the team over the last couple of years. Above all, it’s been a privilege to work alongside so many outstanding professional clients as they defend their livelihoods and reputations in regulatory proceedings. Seeing our clients’ immense relief at the positive outcomes we’ve achieved with them – and ensuring, in so doing, that the regulatory system is working properly – gives us great satisfaction.
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