Features & AnalysisLaw Firms

How law firm philosophy presents a growing regulatory risk

There are many different elements to a law firm’s culture: It is not just about having high ethical standards in client work; it is also about the way staff interact with one another; and whether people feel that they are treated equally, for example

If a trainee lawyer you are supervising realises that they have made a mistake, what would they do? Would they feel frightened to admit what they have done, and try to cover it up to avoid being blamed and admonished? Or would they come to you to explain what has happened, knowing that they will be treated fairly and helped to resolve the situation?

If a major client is pushing a colleague to stretch the boundaries of the law, how would they react? Would they comply with the client’s request, fearing the impact on their career if they were to lose such an important client? Or will they have the confidence to push back, safe in the knowledge that the firm’s partners value high ethical standards above billing targets?

Questions such as these essentially boil down to one thing: a law firm’s culture. As such, they are firmly on the radar of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which included a new focus on cultural issues in the Standards and Regulations that it introduced in November 2019.

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