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Social Media Use: A Warning from A Recent Case
September 20, 2023

1. Introduction

In an overview of an ongoing tribunal published recently by The Law Gazette, a solicitor accused of posting “inappropriate and offensive” tweets, some of which are claimed to be antisemitic, is facing a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Following a complaint received from his employer at the time of the alleged tweets, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched the investigation. The SRA says this behaviour and conduct on social media is in breach of SRA Principles 2, 5 and 6. However, the solicitor argues that his Twitter account is personal and no allegations should have been made against him.

According to the SRA, the tweets were published on a public profile, making them accessible to anyone. The regulator argues that the solicitor was acting as a solicitor and not in a personal capacity, as his Twitter profile clearly identified him as such.

The hearing, which is listed for five days, continues, and we will monitor any updates for an outcome to the tribunal.

Read the full article here. 

2. Expectations From The SRA

The ongoing tribunal is not an isolated case. There have been several recent examples where the regulators of both the bar and the solicitors’ profession have been stringent in their dealings with anyone they found in breach of their rules.

The regulator has made it clear it will focus on all cases of serious misconduct, not just on areas of obvious regulatory requirements such as AML procedures and Price Transparency. The SRA has previously issued guidance on its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, 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”.

Firms and their staff must familiarise themselves with the SRA’s Principles, Codes of Conduct, and expectations regarding behaviour in their personal lives and conduct online. We have previously published insights on social media use, conduct outside of work, and avoiding regulatory issues:

3. Understanding Your Obligations

Due to the level of regulation that applies to law firms, their management and supervision, setting out how a firm operates, including the conduct expectations of staff, in a series of policies, procedures, and documents is essential for all law firms. Secondly, training all your staff on your firm’s policies and procedures is vital. Furthermore, it should include your expectations on how personal behaviour once out of the office – including online – reflects on the firm, reminding them 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 for remote workers who are distanced from the traditional office environment.

4. 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 wish to confirm your firm is achieving the required standard, at The Strategic Partner, we offer a range of solutions which include: –

  • Review – Review the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include all regulatory requirements and AML procedures. The output of this 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 you need. We have trained staff from firms of all sizes, and our clients range from sole practitioners 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 the 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 –

5. Get in Touch

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 to keep this up to date, you can call us on 020 3911 9710 or email us info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk.

View and download this article here.

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