Our corporate soul – Defining the values of a law firm

Our corporate soul – Defining the values of a law firm

‘If your boss demands loyalty, give him integrity. But if he demands integrity, then give him loyalty.’
USAF Colonel John Boyd, quoted in Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

‘Our objectives are… to achieve the highest order of excellence in the practice of the art, the science and the profession of the law; through such practice to earn a living and to derive the stimulation and pleasure of worthwhile adventure.’
Judge Simon Rifkind, Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, 1963 Continue reading “Our corporate soul – Defining the values of a law firm”

Guest post: Conferring with poachers – Bank GCs excluded from Senior Managers Regime after entirely predictable lobbying

Guest post: Conferring with poachers – Bank GCs excluded from Senior Managers Regime after entirely predictable lobbying

Following a consultation launched in January this year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has decided to exclude the head of legal of all of the banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions that it supervises from senior manager accountability under the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMR). You can access the FCA’s policy statement here.

A group of us at UCL Laws submitted a detailed response to the consultation. In that response we objected to the proposal to exclude general counsel from SMR. Our response paper drew on both our own research and learnings from other scholarship; we argued that inclusion would strengthen the position of in-house lawyers within regulated financial firms and deliver benefits both for the firms themselves and for the economy and society. We found the arguments made against inclusion during the consultation misunderstood the broad-ranging and significant role that most in-house legal departments play in those firms. The FCA’s grounds for exclusion were not in our view compelling, not least the argument that legal professional privilege should be given super-priority over the public interest arguments in favour of inclusion. You can read our detailed response here. Continue reading “Guest post: Conferring with poachers – Bank GCs excluded from Senior Managers Regime after entirely predictable lobbying”

The risk report – Reputations tarnished as #MeToo fallout hits the legal profession

The risk report – Reputations tarnished as #MeToo fallout hits the legal profession

Last year’s risk management and professional indemnity report with broker Marsh told a story of progress; firms felt risk culture had significantly improved in the ten years since Lehman Brothers’ collapse. However, risk remains a moving target and there is a feeling recent unpleasant episodes at a number of City law firms means much-touted improvements in culture have yet to include progress in professional ethics.

‘I’m a great believer in the risk team playing a key part in defining a firm’s culture,’ says Walkers’ chief compliance officer Angela Robertson. ‘Fundamentally, risk teams enforce types of appropriate behaviour, whether dealing with clients or third parties. So it being involved in defining culture is no different really. Currently risk teams don’t have a specific remit to do so though.’ Continue reading “The risk report – Reputations tarnished as #MeToo fallout hits the legal profession”

SRA defers super exam until 2021 as costs of new assessment revealed

SRA defers super exam until 2021 as costs of new assessment revealed

In a busy week for the legal watchdog, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced it is postponing the implementation of its new centralised assessment, dubbed the ‘super-exam’, until September 2021.

The new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) was originally slated for a 2020 launch, but the SRA has postponed plans after law firms and education providers indicated a ‘strong preference’ for a delay. Continue reading “SRA defers super exam until 2021 as costs of new assessment revealed”

Law Society pushes firms for increased transparency on partner pay gaps

Law Society pushes firms for increased transparency on partner pay gaps

The Law Society has called for uniformity in law firms’ gender pay gap reporting in a bid to ‘get ahead of the curve’ of what has proven a sluggish pace in tackling gender pay disparities.

The Law Society’s recommendations for a common set of standards were published as part of a guidance document today (6 November), with the standout focus being on how partner remuneration is included in gender pay gap reporting. Continue reading “Law Society pushes firms for increased transparency on partner pay gaps”

Comment: NDA mess shows age of just-about-OK legal ethics has passed

Comment: NDA mess shows age of just-about-OK legal ethics has passed

Once, not long ago, considerations of ethics were simple for law firms, if they bothered thinking about them at all. If what they were advising on was legal, however morally questionable, it was all good. Professional ethics? You didn’t need to worry – they were lawyers.

Those halcyon days are passing. Consider the convulsions in the profession regarding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and their rampant use covering up harassment, a debate that has simmered for a year now. This topic skewers the profession on two fronts – NDAs have not only been used by law firms as a means of concealing poor behaviour by partners towards staff but they drew up the gagging agreements used by business at large. Continue reading “Comment: NDA mess shows age of just-about-OK legal ethics has passed”

Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed

Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed

Once, not long ago, considerations of ethics were simple for law firms, if they bothered thinking about them at all. If what they were advising on was legal, however morally questionable, it was all good. Professional ethics? You didn’t need to worry – they were lawyers.

Those halcyon days are passing. Consider the convulsions in the profession regarding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and their rampant use covering up harassment, a debate that has simmered for a year now. This topic skewers the profession on two fronts – NDAs have not only been used by law firms as a means of concealing poor behaviour by partners towards staff but they drew up the gagging agreements used by business at large. Continue reading “Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed”

‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda

‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) yesterday (12 April) announced plans to formalise its innovation ‘safe space’ – which allows firms to develop new ideas for business lines and products that could test regulatory boundaries – with the aim of fostering innovation within the legal industry.

The initiative seeks to simplify the existing waiver process from regulatory enforcement and make the criteria clearer for firms when applying for regulatory exemptions to pursue new business models. Continue reading “‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda”

‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?

‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?

Law may have a reputation as a relatively staid career but it was inevitable that the profession would be drawn into the widening debate about the treatment of women sparked by last year’s reports of harassment in the film industry.

Following the latest controversy to grip business, Mishcon de Reya today (25 January) issued a statement of contrition after it emerged that one of its partners attended the controversial City charity dinner at the centre of a Financial Times report alleging harassment. Continue reading “‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?”

Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement

Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement

In another twist in the Excalibur professional negligence saga and a clear sign of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) clamping down on lawyers at the City’s top firms, a case management hearing over Clifford Chance (CC) disputes partner Alex Panayides took place at Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) on Friday (24 November) following an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

First reported on RollOnFriday and according to a daily cause list published by the SDT, the hearing over Panayides took place at midday, with the SRA being represented by Capsticks litigator Daniel Purcell. Continue reading “Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement”