Ethics in law
Helpline support on ethical and practice issues
For advice on ethical issues, call the SRA professional ethics helpline on 0370 606 2577For support and guidance on legal practice and procedure, call our Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675
The commitment to behaving ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor.
Ethics is based on the principles of:
- serving the interests of consumers of legal services
- acting in the interests of justice
- acting with integrity and honesty according to widely recognised moral principles
Ethics will help you respond in the right way to any moral dilemmas you might face at work.
The SRA principles
Committing to acting ethically forms the basis of the standards and requirements set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations.
These standards stem from the seven mandatory principles in the Standards and Regulations that apply to all solicitors and underpin all aspects of practice.
You must act:
- in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice
- in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors' profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons
- with independence
- with honesty
- with integrity
- in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion
- in the best interests of each client
The SRA Standards and Regulations
These came into effect on 25 November 2019.
There are two codes of conduct under the Standards and Regulations:
Solicitors are individually accountable for the actions of those they manage and supervise.
Support for solicitors on ethical issues
We support solicitors in:
- recognising and handling difficult professional situations
- making choices which can be supported by the SRA Code of Conduct
We hold regular events for solicitors discussing ethical issues. You can watch videos of these events on YouTube.
Sheffield and Leeds roundtables – discussion of various ethical legal issues, including what to do if something is permitted by law but may not be acceptable to the public.
Deregulation – what solicitors can learn from professionals in other markets.
Owning up to mistakes – is it sensible for a solicitor to admit making a mistake, even if it could limit their career?
Professional ethics under pressure – discussion of whether lawyers can be competitive and act ethically, and how individuals and firms strike a balance between the rule of law and reputation.
Professional Standards and Ethics Committee
Our Professional Standards and Ethics Committee monitors professional standards and values in regulation.
Ethical Performance – news and analysis on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues.
Institute of Business Ethics – current thinking on business ethics.
Business Ethics: A European Review – online journal discussing issues in business ethics and CSR (subscription needed).
Protect yourself and your firm from ethical issues
Keep up to date with ethical issues with the Solicitor's Handbook 2022. It covers key changes, including Beckwith and the private lives of solicitors, solicitors' undertakings after Harcus Sinclair and revisions to guidance on conflicts of interest.
Test your understanding of legal practice and anti-money laundering with our Risk and Compliance Accreditation training courses.
Join the conversation on Law Society Connect, the digital community for solicitors, to share your experiences, ask for advice and support your peers.