According to a new report, lawyers and solicitors are failing to meet ethical practice standards. It was revealed that almost one in six would accept guidance from their colleagues in order to “round up” their billing hours and charge customers more.
The report from the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Characters and Virtues drew information from 1,000 solicitors, barristers and laws students who participated in interviews and surveys.
They discovered 60 percent of participants found it difficult to “do the right thing.”
A total of 16 percent of solicitors would be ready to follow guidance from colleagues to “round up” billing hours, regardless of whether it was considered fraudulent practice.
A further 5 percent of “experienced” solicitors were prepared to leave misuse of a client’s account unreported, the study revealed.
Judgment and honesty, however, were apparently regarded as important traits for a “good” lawyer by 84 percent of solicitors and 93 percent of barristers.
Professor Hywel Thomas, who conducted the research, said there was no “moral crisis” within the sector, but expressed a need for there to be better ethical training for young lawyers.
He said: “While the legal profession is not in moral crisis, there is concern within the sector that not all members of the profession have an understanding of morally good practice.”
“Our research suggests a requirement for greater focus on ethics within undergraduate law courses and on senior role models in informal work-place learning,” he added.