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The legal profession is highly pressured which can mean that some lawyers may make a significant mistake or will be the subject of a complaint at some point during their career. While minor mistakes are usually handled informally, a major error or breach of professional misconduct rules might lead to an indemnity insurance claim and/or disciplinary proceedings against you by your employer and against you and/or the firm by the regulator.
Facing disciplinary proceedings can be an extremely distressing and worrying time. Most lawyers are hard-working, competent, knowledgeable, and take great professional pride in serving the best interests of their clients. Failure in any of these areas can hit you hard. Also, the disciplinary process can be lengthy, which adds to the pain of the experience.
If you believe you have made a mistake, report it sooner rather than later. Failure to deal with it could affect your and your employer’s insurance and lead the insurer to refuse cover on the grounds of nondisclosure of a material fact. Consider enlisting the support of a colleague, and admit your mistake frankly and indicating you are prepared to do whatever is necessary to put it right, including undergoing additional training.
Lawyers tend to be perfectionists and it can be very hard to admit that you have made a mistake, but doing so and taking action to deal with it is really important to support your mental health and wellbeing. At LawCare we have listened to many lawyers who are worried about the mistakes they have made and those facing disciplinary proceedings. We know what a difficult and stressful time this is, so call us if you need emotional support. If you are being investigated by your professional body or regulator you may need expert independent legal advice; we can help signpost you to this.
The Solicitors’Assistance Scheme (SAS) offers one hour free confidential help and legal advice in England and Wales to solicitors, their families and employees whether personal or professional. They have a panel of solicitors who are experienced in representing solicitors facing disciplinary proceedings.
The Legal Defence Union exists to promote and protect the welfare of solicitors in Scotland and can provide advice on disciplinary matters. Solicitors can join the Legal Defence Union individually or through a firm membership and their members regularly represent those appearing before SSDT.
If you are worried about a mistake you have made, even if it was some time ago, give our helpline a call, we can help. We are not obliged to report any breaches to your regulator. You can also email us, access our webchat service via our home page or apply for peer support.
You are the first person who has really listened to me. I am so glad I phoned. I should have phoned months ago
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