Watch what you say on social media says lawyers’ regulator

by Steve Randall25 Aug 2017
Watch what you say on social media says lawyers’ regulator
Lawyers are being warned about unprofessional communications following an increase in reports of lawyers falling below the expected standards.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority in the UK says that lawyers should take care to make sure that communication is always professional, lawful and does not cause offence.

The issue is specifically about lawyers posting comments online in a personal capacity which might be considered offensive or inappropriate if they can be identified as a solicitor.

"We expect solicitors to act at all times with integrity, including on social media and when commenting in what may seem to be a personal capacity. Public confidence in the profession is undermined by offensive or inappropriate communication and the misuse of social media can be a real problem,” said Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive.

He added that this is also about communications with clients and within offices which may result in action if deemed to fall short of professional standards.

Recent complaints dealt with by the regulator include:
  • Facebook comments made by a solicitor leading to a £25,000 fine from the SDT, after he admitted they were "offensive" and "wholly inappropriate"
  • Three solicitors at a firm being fined a total of £14,000 and being liable for more than £7,000 of costs after exchanging offensive emails about a colleague
  • A solicitor being fined £15,000 for emailing a client using language the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said was "despicable"
The SRA warning notice can be viewed here.

Ashurst advises government owned firm on Queensland venture
A team from Ashurst has advised CS energy the government owned electricity generator on its new joint-venture with Western Australia based Atlinta.

The team was led by Melbourne utilities partner Tanya Denning who said the joint-venture is a game changer for the Queensland electricity market.

She was assisted by senior associate Jo Slater and lawyer Tim Rankin for the utilities team; partner Graeme Tucker and lawyer Robert Lau (finance); partner Geoffrey Mann and lawyer Kristina Popova (tax); and Justin Jones competition counsel.

International firm selects first tech partners
Allen and Overy has confirmed the companies which will work in its new tech innovation space Fuse.

The London based initiative is targeting legal tech and similar technology start-ups and made its selections following online applications and a pitch day.

The firms selected include Legatics – a company that turns ‘paper and email’ based legal processes into simple and innovative software; and iManage –a business developing natural language processing and machine learning technology to organise, discover and summarise documents.

Fuse is an integral part of Allen & Overy’s advanced delivery capability and complements the legal practice’s profile in the fintech arena.