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Meeting your professional obligations

Being a solicitor or working in an SRA regulated business means your conduct – in both your working and personal life – is held to the high standards expected of those in your profession.

Understanding what that means and how to exercise ethical judgement as all solicitors are required to do is not always straightforward. In the work context, this is especially the case where different duties (and especially the SRA’s Principles) come into conflict. In your private life, questions can arise in an array of different ways, including matters such as disclosing convictions and how you express yourself on social media.

The same expectations apply to firms. Managers have responsibility for their firm’s compliance with the SRA Principles, Codes of Conduct and Rules and all professionals have obligations to report behaviour that falls below the required standards.

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Meeting these duties can pose dilemmas that are difficult to navigate. Get it wrong and there can be serious consequences. It is not safe to assume the SRA won’t take an interest in your decision-making or behaviour, even if you feel confident you have done nothing wrong. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s 2017-18 data on its enforcement activity, it received around 12,000 reports raising concerns about the solicitors and legal businesses it regulates. It opened investigations into more than half of those reports - that’s around one investigation for every 25 practising solicitors.

Responding to an investigation can be costly, particularly in terms of wasted (often senior) fee-earning time, even where no subsequent action is taken.

Having appropriate policies, procedures and controls tailored to your practice is certainly part of the picture. Making ethical decisions about the way your firm operates and promoting a transparent, no-blame culture are also vital to embedding the right values in your organisation.

Whether you have queries or concerns about a specific issue or you need guidance on ethical behaviour, policies, procedures or best practice, we’re here to help.