Kingsley Napley Spotlight Series

Insights into Legal Services Regulation in 2021

These webinars form part of a series that Kingsley Napley launched in early 2021 and which will run throughout the year. These webinars cover a range of some of the most important regulatory issues and developments facing the legal professions.
 

We are delighted to be joined by a number of thought leaders in the sector throughout this series to share their insight. If you would like to be kept informed in relation to these events please click here.

Events in the series so far:
 

The impact of Beckwith v SRA

The decision of the Divisional Court at the end of last year in Beckwith v SRA created shock waves in legal services regulation. That decision caused some to call into question the SRA’s approach in bringing disciplinary proceedings against solicitors where sexual misconduct was alleged. In addition, it raised issues around the proper scope of disciplinary action when not directly related to the work of a solicitor. The case is of particular importance to those within law firms who deal with SRA regulation and compliance.
 

Our Regulatory and Professional Discipline team has brought together an expert panel to discuss the issues that arise.

The panel of experts, chaired by Julie Norris, Partner at Kingsley Napley, include:

  • Juliet Oliver, General Counsel of the SRA;
  • Professor Richard Moorhead, one of the UK’s foremost experts on legal ethics;
  • Iain Miller, Partner at Kingsley Napley and General Editor of Cordery on Legal Services.

This event has now passed, but you can download the white paper summarising the key takeaways and insights discussed during the event using the form below.

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Entity Regulation: ethics, compliance and culture Part 1 - Embedding effective structures, systems and processes

Entity regulation is a key component of the regulatory framework and with the launch of the SRA Standards and Regulations in 2019, it is clear that the SRA will now more than ever look at law firms - not just individuals - to understand what they are doing to ensure they are complying with their regulatory obligations. 
 

The current era of legal services regulation is focused not only on an in depth examination of what individual lawyers are doing, but more broadly how law firms are ensuring their lawyers and non-qualified employees are meeting their obligations. The industry can therefore expect an increased focus on culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing and the on-going issues of bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Firms will increasingly need to ensure that their general workplace culture is embedded within their firm. This not only means ensuring policies and procedures are up to date and aligned to best practice, but that every partner and employee understands their firm’s culture and values and ensures they carry those with them every day.

Our Regulatory and Professional Discipline team has brought together an expert panel to discuss the issues that arise.

The panel of experts, chaired by Joshua Rozenberg QC (hon) include:

  • Iain Miller, Partner at Kingsley Napley and General Editor of Cordery on Legal Services.; 
  • Crispin Passmore, Founder and Managing Director of Passmore Consulting expert consultancy  working with solicitors, legal businesses and regulators and former executive director of Policy at the Solicitors Regulation Authority;
  • Sarah de Gay, Visiting Professor at UCL Laws.  She is also a special advisor and former general Counsel at Slaughter and May and  co-author of The In-Houser publication which translates SRA rules for in-house lawyers;
  • Jessica Clay, Senior Associate at Kingsley Napley and former Principal Legal Adviser in the General Counsel team at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

 

Entity Regulation: ethics, compliance and culture Part 2 - Creating a safe and supportive workplace

One of the key responsibilities for any employer is to create and maintain an inclusive workplace culture where all individuals feel respected, safe, and supported. Two standalone yet inter-related areas of focus to have come to the fore over recent years in the legal profession relate to the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and the safeguarding and promotion of good mental health and wellbeing in law firms.

For this second webinar in our mini-series on ethics, compliance and culture, we have brought together an expert panel to discuss the legislative and regulatory obligations relating to EDI, health and wellbeing, their implications for practice, and practical insights which firms may wish to consider when seeking to promote and embed a good workplace culture.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) sets out key obligations in its Standards and Regulations, in respect of encouraging EDI and prohibiting discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. We will discuss these in detail, along with steps which firms might want to take in developing and implementing informed EDI initiatives. A safe and supportive work environment also relies on those at the higher echelons of a firm’s practice to create and promote a healthy work culture. To this end, we will discuss the regulatory risks associated with poor health and wellbeing in the workplace, and how firms can mitigate these risks. 

The panel of experts will be chaired by Lucinda Soon, Regulatory Professional Support Lawyer at Kingsley Napley.

Speakers will include:

  • Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive Officer of LawCare, the charity which supports and promotes good mental health and wellbeing in the UK legal community;
  • Sara Carnegie,  Director of Legal Projects at the International Bar Association (IBA), who oversees the Legal Policy and Research team and Bar Project work;
  • Jessica Clay, Senior Associate at Kingsley Napley and a former Principal Lawyer at the SRA.

 

Entity Regulation: ethics, compliance and culture Part 3 - Promoting professional behaviours

How can firms better identify behaviours amongst lawyers and staff that pose a risk to its culture and its compliance with SRA regulatory obligations?
 

Can firms learn to recognise antecedents, structures and behaviours that pose a reputational and regulatory risk and take action to eradicate or at least minimise their prevalence?

In our third and final webinar on entity regulation, we take a close look at four key areas that firms need to have on their radar when reviewing their risk outlook:

  • Recognising and understanding the phenomenon of “Groupthink” and the particular risks it poses in the context of law firm culture and compliance;
  • Preventing and dealing with allegations of bullying and harassment;
  • The concept of fractured cultures: the risks of on-shoring, satellite offices and imported practices; and  
  • Reducing the risk of behaviours tending towards a lack of integrity and dishonesty.

Our expert panel of speakers will explore and debate these issues, following which we will be publishing a toolkit. This will draw together the practical steps taken from our trilogy of webinars that firms might want to take to ensure that their systems, processes and practices reflect a “good” culture and reduce the risks associated with non-compliance with regulatory obligations.

The panel of experts will be chaired by Iain Miller, Regulatory Partner at Kingsley Napley.

Speakers will include:

  • Julie Norris – Regulatory Partner at Kingsley Napley
  • Kieran Pender – Honorary Lecturer, The Australian National University and Consultant, International Bar Association
  • David Gamblin – Lecturer, Department of Organisational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London
  • Emily Carroll – Senior Lecturer in Law, Senior Tutor & head of Student Development and Support, Birmingham Law School

 

Latest blogs & news

Ethical imperatives

Julie Norris and Jessica Clay consider SRA entity regulation and the imperative to create an ethical (ergo, compliant) legal workplace.

All well and good

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of good mental health and resilience both in and out of the office. Bronwen Still and Lucinda Soon consider your obligations

More clarity needed from the SRA on boundaries concerning sexual misconduct and harassment in law firms

The solicitors’ watchdog is right to take charge of misconduct cases but it needs firmer guidance to succeed 

Beckwith v SRA – are there implications for the regulation of professional accountants who face sexual misconduct allegations?

In our fourth blog in our series on Beckwith v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2020] EWHC 3231 (Admin), we turn our attention to consider what impact, if any, this landmark decision might have on the regulation of professional accountants. While the case turned on some very specific features relating to the regulation of solicitors as contained in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Principles and Code of conduct, some parts of the judgment may have more general application.

Post-Beckwith – where to now for sexual misconduct cases?

In the two years preceding Ryan Beckwith’s appeal to the High Court, the SRA pursued a handful of other sexual misconduct cases before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (Tribunal). These cases are varied and fact-specific and include sexual misconduct in and relating to the workplace and conduct outside of work.

Where have we reached on costs in proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal post Beckwith?

Regulatory investigations across all sectors are increasing in complexity, with a corresponding increase in the size of the cost applications made by regulators upon successful prosecution. For solicitors facing investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’), the costs associated with prosecutions before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (‘SDT’) have made the headlines recently for their size. In Beckwith, for example, the Divisional Court referred to the SRA’s costs of c.£340,000 as “alarming.

Beckwith v SRA – an analysis of the Court’s landmark decision

The decision of the Divisional Court in Beckwith v SRA [2020] EWHC 3231 (Admin) has attracted extensive press attention as it is the first SRA case involving allegations of sexual misconduct that are not based on criminal conviction to reach the High Court.  In high level terms the Court found that sexual misconduct cases should be confined to cases that clearly engage the SRA’s Code of Conduct and expressed the view that there were limits on how far a regulator should take action in relation to matters of private life.

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