Do ethics protect solicitors from risks of deregulation?

What can solicitors learn from other professions as the regulator seeks to liberalise the rulebook?

James Woolf and Michael Lonergan, regulatory policy advisers, outline a free upcoming breakfast event on 16 April that will provide food for thought for all firms small and large.

Behaving ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor. Solicitors are rightly held to more rigorous standards of behaviour and conduct than many other occupations and sectors. This helps to protect clients and the reputation of the profession.

The regulator is pursuing an agenda of deregulation for the profession – for example shortening the rulebook and allowing solicitors to practise in unregulated firms – in order to encourage more competition and innovation. 

The Law Society has been vocal in opposing the SRA’s proposals. Legal services are being opened up in other ways too – as seen by the growth of the Big Four accountancy firms.

Free event: What can solicitors learn from other professions?

The Law Society has teamed up with the British Academy to organise a free, informative panel session to discuss this. Panellists include:

  • Philip Wood: special global counsel, Allen & Overy
  • Simon Davis: deputy vice-president, The Law Society
  • Ingrid Holmes: associate director of policy, Responsibility Office, Hermes Investment Management
  • Colin Mayer: Peter Moores professor of management studies, Said Business School, University of Oxford.

As an example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, set up by the US Government, concluded that the crisis of 2007-2008 was avoidable and, in part, was caused by 'widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision'.

There has been a lot work since to reduce the risk of another crisis occurring – including consideration of an enhanced role for professional ethics.

We’ll be considering this and other questions such as:

  • How does a lack of regulation impact on the day to day ethics of professionals?
  • In an increasingly competitive world, are professional ethics even more important?
  • How does greater competition interact with professional obligations to a client and the client's best interests?
  • Can lawyers play a greater role in shaping the effective functioning of corporations outside the legal sector?

Where do I sign up?

The event will be held at Chancery Lane on 16 April 2018.

Book your place now

Other ethics resources

The Law Society is keen to promote the importance of ethics. We have a suite of interactive ethical scenarios. You will be guided through ethical scenarios based on real-life dilemmas solicitors may face in practice.

Our immigration scenario involves a solicitor representing a client who is in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa. The solicitor is presented with a series of ethical dilemmas when her client falls in love with a man who is living in the UK illegally.