LawCare, a mental health charity for the UK legal sector, has issued advice to employers to combat loneliness

LawCare has issued advice to the beginning of mental health week in Scotland. This year mental health week was focused on combating loneliness.

LawCare has encouraged individuals and employers to:

  • Reach out to a colleague an informal chat about how things are going;
  • Share experiences about the challenges they have faced working in the law – which might make someone feel less alone;
  • If they are having a hard time, talk about how they are feeling to LawCare or a trusted friend of colleague;
  • Signpost to LawCare’s services wherever they can.

LawCare’s ‘Life in the Law’ research into legal workplaces wellbeing found that of a wide range of workplace measures available, from private health insurance to mental health training, regular catchups or appraisals were reported to be the most helpful.

Other particular recommendations for employers are:

  • Pay attention to vulnerable groups: trainees and juniors will often need more support
  • Build a culture of connection and community
  • Encourage people back to the workplace. Incentivise and encourage people to spend at least sometime in the workplace.

Ensure a work/life balance is possible.

Read the full article here.

The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education is engaging with stakeholders to identify potential skill gaps in those recently called to the bar.

The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) is attempting to enhance and evolve the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) so as to be recognized as a “best-in-class” Bar admission program. To achieve this, CPLED is engaging with key stakeholders to gather information on potential skill gaps in lawyers who have been called to the Bar in the last five years.

CPLED has contracted ACT, a non-profit education organisation, to facilitate and analyse the feedback received to provide a report that CPLED will use to update PREP for implementation in their Summer 2024 program.

On behalf of CPLED, ACT will conduct a series of virtual focus groups with lawyers who have been called to the Bar in the past five years, Principals and firm articling supervisors. The focus groups will be 90-minutes long and take place in June of 2022. During the sessions, participants will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on PREP and the competencies necessary for success in early practice.

Read the full article here.

NOvA, the Dutch Bar, has extended the subsidy for trainee lawyers working in social law firms

NOvA, the Dutch Bar, has extended the subsidy scheme for trainee lawyers working in socially- minded law firms. The scheme was first introduced in 2020 and reached its full allocation, with 175 lawyers making use of it. The scheme finances the training costs of lawyers seeking to work in a socially based law firm.

The subsidy scheme will be made available for the first time this year. The evaluation of the scheme  shows that trainee lawyers from all over the country and with various specializations have made use of the scheme. This demonstrates that the scheme contributes to good national coverage of social lawyers.

The scheme came back into action on 14th April and is expected to reach another 175 lawyers seeking to train in a social law firm.

Read the full article here.

Check My Legal Fees wins informed consent court case against Slater & Gordon

Solicitor/own client claims entity Check My Legal Fees (CMLF) has won its case against Slater & Gordon, opening the door to millions of former personal injury firm clients to recover deductions.

Mr Justice Ritchie ruled that Slater & Gordon had to make significant disclosures to CMLF, including of the phone calls in which it signed up clients to check whether they gave informed consent. The Justice said: “One only has to listen to the audio recording of the sign-up process for Mr Turnbull to feel uncomfortable about lack of informed consent for the [unrecovered costs] clauses in the CFA.”

Mr Justice Ritchie was ruling on appeals against two decisions made by Costs Judge Rowley.In Edwards, a group of 144 claimants challenges the process S&G used to sign them up and whether the clients gave informed consent; Raubenheimer, involving 140 claimants, concerns the allegation that S&G received a secret commission from an after-the-event (ATE) insurer.

Slater & Gordon lost the first appeal with the judge ruling the costs judge had the power to order disclosure in a part 8 claim during a solicitor/own clients assessment.

Further to the Raubenheimer appeal, CMLF said they believed secret commissions had been widespread in the market since 2013. This could lead to up to 1.4 million former clients bringing claims against their solicitors.

Read the full article here.

The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers United States recommends lawyers be permitted to practice in any state

The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL), a group of 400 lawyers who advise on ethics matters, has recommended that lawyers admitted to a US jurisdiction be able to practice across any state.

The Association suggests the ABA Model Rule 5.5, which was adopted in 2002 to prohibit lawyers from practicing in jurisdictions they had not been admitted to, is out of date and does not represent the way the law is practised today. This is specifically targeted at practice during the pandemic which saw lawyers expand beyond state borders with the move to more remote practice.

APRL has submitted proposed revisions to the ABA. The revisions would allow attorneys to represent willing clients without regard to geographic location, the forum where the services are to be provided, or which jurisdiction’s rules apply at a given moment in time.

The rule would still recognize ethics and competency rules and preserve judicial authority in each state to regulate who appears in state courts.

The proposed revisions are the result of a study on multijurisdictional practice and the unauthorized practice of law from APRL’s Future of Lawyering Committee. Jayne Reardon, former Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism, serves on the committee.

Read the full article here.

Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales publishes first ethnicity pay gap report

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published its first ethnicity pay gap report. The ethnicity pay gap shows the difference between the mean or median hourly pay received by White staff and staff from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, employed at the regulator.

Around nine out of ten staff disclosed their ethnicity, with 66 per cent of the workforce being White and 26 per cent from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

The 2021 report shows that the mean pay gap is 21.5 per cent, and the median pay gap – which is the difference between the midpoint in the ranges – is 15 per cent. The gap is driven by a higher proportion of White staff in more senior positions (88 per cent of the upper pay quartile).

Read the full article here.

The New Zealand Law Society launches an independent review of the statutory framework governing legal services

The New Zealand Law Society has commissioned an independent review of the regulatory framework governing legal services to examine the regulation and representation of legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the structure and functions of the Law Society. This review has been described as a ‘once in a generation’ review.

The Independent Review will allow the Law Society to scrutinise its structure, to analyse the legislation and rules covering all lawyers and determine whether they’re fit-for-purpose.

This review was launched with two key ideas in mind:

  • The ability of the Law Society to be more effective with its complaints system and to deal with a range of unacceptable behaviour, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.
  • To ensure the statutory framework is still fit for purpose given the changes that have occurred in the legal profession and in regulatory good practice since the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 came into force.

The independent review panel is currently working on a discussion paper to be released in June, which will be followed by a series of virtual and in-person events to engage with key stakeholders.

Read the full article here.

The Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation has released a supplementary report on consumer harm and legal services

The catalyst for the Review was the market study carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority in 2016. The CMA concluded that the legal sector was not serving the consumer well.

This supplementary report fills in some of the gaps left by the final report. Chiefly, the final report assumes the nature of consumer harm without exploring what this means in reality. This report examines what the types of consumer harm are in the legal sector, and the causes and consequences of this harm.

Read the full paper here.

The Canadian Bar Association has released a report into gender pay equity in the legal market

The Canadian Bar Association  has released Pay Equity in the Legal Profession, a report outlining the results of a roundtable held by the CBA Women Lawyers Forum in 2021.

The goal of the roundtable was to gather qualitative data on Canadian lawyers’ experiences, perceptions, and opinions about gender and pay equity in the profession.

The report and outcomes of the roundtable will be discussed at an event, Achieving pay equity in the legal profession and beyond: Practical steps forward, on the 2nd May 2022, as part of CBA Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Series.

Read more here.

NOvA, the Dutch Bar, is using the DilemmApp to increase awareness of ethics and compliance issues amongst lawyers

The Dutch Bar is using an app called DilemmApp as a tool for increasing awareness and insight into ethics and compliance issues for its members. The App confronts the user with a dilemma in which they have to make a judgment call about the best course of action.

After 2 weeks, NOvA posts its final remarks on the dilemma alongside the reactions of other users. This then provides a platform for lawyers to see other courses of action that could be taken to broaden their thinking on different ethical and compliance issues they face whilst undertaking their role.

Read the full article here.