Social Media Policies
More so than ever before, law firms have been getting used to a new era of communication between clients and their staff. With the rise of remote working triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the use of social media still being an ever-increasing personal and professional messaging platform, law firms and their staff must understand their regulatory obligations in this area.
The risks surrounding exchanging messages and sharing opinions online are real. There have been several examples where the regulators of both the bar and the solicitors’ profession have been exacting in their dealings with anyone they found in breach of their rules. The SRA issued guidance on its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion in July 2019, which included a warning against “expressing extreme personal, moral or political opinions on social media platforms.” Before that, the SRA had stated in its Enforcement Strategy that it would treat the right to “non-discriminatory treatment as at the higher end of seriousness”.
Whilst firms may be mindful of their use of social media across their business social media profiles or blogs, are they sure that their staff also understand their obligations when sharing opinions online or even in private messaging? The SRA has made it very clear that it will focus on serious misconduct, not just on areas of obvious regulatory requirements such as AML procedures and Price Transparency. Both the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have picked up on publicly available posts, such as those on Twitter and Facebook that they found were in breach of these rules and have enforced fines and sanctions accordingly. Penalties for the individual can range from a few hundred up to several thousand pounds, along with a suspension. However, the reputational damage to the firm can be far greater and longer-lasting.
Social Media Policies and Training
The setting out of the way in which a firm operates in a series of policies, procedures, and documents is essential for all law firms due to the level of regulation that applies to law firms, their management and supervision. Additionally, it is vital all your staff (even if they are on furlough) are trained on your law firm’s policies and procedures. This should include your expectations on how personal behaviour once out of the office reflects on the firm and that they are reminded of their professional and regulatory obligations. Once training has been provided, be sure this is recorded as proof and that staff have easy access to policies and support from managers or the firm, especially those that are remote working and distanced from the traditional office environment.
Regulatory Guidance and Support from Industry Experts
If you believe your firm may be at risk, would like guidance on how your firm should approach social media policies, or you simply wish to confirm your firm is achieving the required standard, at The Strategic Partner, we offer a range of solutions which include: –
Review – A review of the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include all regulatory requirements and AML procedures. The output of which provides the firm with a written gap analysis and solutions to remedy any issues.
Training – Whether you seek training on a 1-2-1 or group basis The Strategic Partner has a range of training courses and mentoring programmes to suit any firm and we can also design additional bespoke courses that you need. We have provided training to firms of all sizes, and our clients range from sole practitioners through to multi-office, multi-service firms with overseas offices.
Auditing – Procedural, staff, systems and files to ensure the procedures are up to the required standard and being implemented at case level with a report of the outcome.
Solutions – Implementation of robust solutions to ensure the firm achieves compliance and then maintains compliance through the provision of ongoing support and assistance: –
For more information on The Strategic Partner and to discuss how we may be able to assist in accelerating your risk management or compliance and regulation or simply to keep this up to date you can call us on 020 3911 9710 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download a copy of this article here – Social Media Policies – avoiding the wrath of the SRA