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SRA drops sexual harassment inquiry into former Reed Smith partner

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has dropped an investigation into a former Reed Smith partner who was dismissed from the firm over a complaint of sexual harassment.

The allegation came to light last November, with the matter reported to have involved the sexual harassment of a junior female trainee, while the unnamed London-based partner was dismissed from the firm in late 2017.

An SRA spokesperson said today (22 August): ‘We have looked at all the available information and decided to close the matter with no further action. If further information is made available, we can look again at the issues.’

It is not known when exactly Reed Smith reported the matter to the SRA as the firm initially declined to comment last year on whether or not it had referred the matter on.

A Reed Smith spokesperson said today: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment save to say that we are committed to providing a positive and professional workplace for all our people.  The safety and well-being of all of our colleagues are hugely important to us and we will always take swift and appropriate action where that is needed.’

Incidentally, Reed Smith is one of the few major law firms to have a female leader in the shape of finance rainmaker Tamara Box, who serves as its European managing partner.

The matter follows several uncomfortable #MeToo developments in the legal profession, with Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins, Dentons and Herbert Smith Freehills among those last year embroiled in complaints of inappropriate behaviour by partners. Last month, the SRA decided to refer Baker McKenzie and its former London head Gary Senior for prosecution to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) after its investigation found he had ‘behaved in an inappropriate manner’ and ‘sought to initiate intimate activity’ with a junior member of staff in 2012.