find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Do ethics go out the door in recessionary times?

Do ethics go out the door in recessionary times?

How far are increased pressured of the global economy impacting the way law firms' processes work? Peter Ellender, CEO of Carter Newell lawyers, looks at the fallout of ethics in a recession.

Increased pressures from difficult trading conditions are often blamed for people taking short cuts and using expediency in their dealings when times are tough. The need to keep costs down, reduce resources and the push for increased efficiency may be interpreted in practical terms as the go-ahead to eliminate some steps or processes.  

But is this actually the case or just a convenient explanation that approximates to the facts? 

In Queensland, the Legal Services Commissioner (LSC), John Briton, has been proactively promoting ethical behaviour in the profession. One activity recently undertaken was a series of online surveys centred on ethical issues, which some firms have elected to participate in. 

It has become clear from the results tabulated that ethical behaviour is high on the agenda of the lawyers participating in the survey, but since ethical issues are rarely absolutely black and white, it is also clear that more can be done to provide a suitable framework within firms to handle ethical dilemmas on a day-to-day basis.  

The survey incorporated some realistic case studies, undoubtedly based on real life examples, which moved the thinking from the theoretical level to the practical level, which was particularly useful for junior lawyers to be exposed to the conundrums faced by partners from time to time. 

Carter Newell has from this survey been able to see both the firm’s positioning regarding ethical issues and its comparison to a wider legal industry perspective. These surveys have prompted Carter Newell, and probably a number of other participating practices, to take another look at the way all lawyers, in fact all staff, are exposed to handling ethical issues. This was no doubt an underlying intention of the LSC in promoting the surveys.  

At Carter Newell, areas being reviewed include the ethics session of the induction programs for lawyers, the wider promotion and exposure of the internal Professional Standards and Ethics Committee and an increased communication of the way in which possible client conflicts and matter conflicts are handled by the Conflicts Committee. 

Behind this is a driving force to build on the firm’s culture and ensure that all staff are not only aware of the firm’s position regarding ethical behaviour, but completely understand the framework for managing the same.

Implications of the LSC studies would suggest that ethical behaviour is high on the agenda of lawyers. However, a recently conducted international survey of over 600 compliance and business ethics professionals from professional services industries discovered that 85 per cent of respondents felt that the current economic position greatly or somewhat increased the risk of compliance and ethics failures. 

The challenge, it would seem, is for the legal profession to identify and handle ethical dilemmas and support practitioners with ethical guidance so that consumers of the industry are satisfied during recessionary times.  Regardless of economic times, law firms should apply the right ethical stance and behaviours. 




Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Do ethics go out the door in recessionary times?
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...