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  • A solicitor's commitment to behaving ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor. The Law Society supports solicitors in recognising and handling difficult professional situations and making choices which can be substantiated by reference to the SRA Code of Conduct.

    • Ethics involves making a commitment to acting with integrity and honesty in accordance with widely recognised moral principles.
    • Ethics will guide a professional towards an appropriate way to behave in relation to moral dilemmas that arise in practice.
    • Ethics is based on the principles of serving the interests of consumers of legal services and of acting in the interests of the administration of justice, in which, in the event of a conflict, acting in the interests of the administration of justice prevails.
    Ethical Ethel

    Ethical scenarios

    Our ethical scenarios guide you through ethical issues solicitors might face in practice. View our ethical scenarios

    Ethics roundtables in Sheffield and Leeds

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    Discussions were led by Paul Wilson, Head of Regulatory Affairs at the Law Society, with academic Joan Loughrey, Professor of Law at the University of Leeds, providing expert input.

    Topics included the following:

    • Are professional ethics in law under particular pressure at this time?
    • How realistic or advisable is it for legal professionals to admit their own mistakes?
    • Is there a relationship between risk management, mistakes and profitability?
    • How should lawyers operate in situations where what is permitted by law does not accord with what is acceptable to the public?

    Deregulation - what can solicitors learn from professionals in other markets?

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    Watch the full film on YouTube

    An ethics session hosted with the British Academy on 16 April 2018. The panel of Professor Colin Mayer, Philip Wood, Simon Davis, Ingrid Holmes and Sophia Adams Bhatti discuss questions such as:

    • In a ferociously competitive environment, can deregulation undermine solicitors’ professional ethics and client relationships?
    • Can companies help to build trust by having a sense of purpose and by demonstrating how they deliver on this purpose?
    • Does competition only drive meaningful change when clients understand the goods and services on offer? If so, are legal services simply too complex for this to apply?

    Owning up to mistakes

    How realistic or advisable is it for professionals to admit their own mistakes? Is it sensible to do so, or career limiting? What can lawyers learn from how other professions deal with their mistakes? How will you be protected if you report another person’s mistakes? These issues were explored in a keynote speech by Lord Brian Paddick, in four workshops, and by a panel of experts in our symposium, November 2017.
    View on YouTube

    Professional Ethics under Pressure

    Can lawyers be competitive and act ethically? How do individuals and firms strike a balance between rule of law and reputation? A panel of experts discuss these issues and more.
    View on Youtube

    SRA Code of Conduct: the principles

    Making a commitment to acting ethically is intrinsically linked with meeting the standards and requirements set out in the SRA Code of Conduct. These standards stem from the 10 mandatory principles. The principles apply to all solicitors and underpin all aspects of practice.
    Read more about the principles

    The code says:

    "They define the fundamental ethical and professional standards that we expect of all firms and individuals (including owners who may not be lawyers) when providing legal services. You should always have regard to the principles and use them as your starting point when faced with an ethical dilemma."

    You must:

    • uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice
    • act with integrity
    • not allow your independence to be compromised
    • act in the best interests of each client
    • provide a proper standard of service to your clients
    • behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services
    • comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner
    • run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles
    • run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, and
    • protect client money and assets.

    For advice on ethical issues, call the SRA professional ethics helpline on 0370 606 2577.

  • The SRA and ethics

    On 14 June 2018 the SRA announced that it is pressing ahead with its handbook reform programme.
    Read our member briefing about this programme of work

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