The legal recruiter's analysis of the SRA's guidelines
A legal recruitment director has hit out at the SRA's new workplace guidance, saying that it creates "red-tape" and doesn't reflect the "realities" of high-pressured law firms.
The SRA's recent guidance on staff wellbeing, sets out standards for firms to adhere to, to counter "unsupportive, bullying or toxic" working environments.
The guidance sets out requirements for firms to have supervision, systems and controls in place, in order that "staff can confidently raise concerns and be supported if they are experiencing problems." The regulator also said it would "hold individuals to account for serious failures" to meet the standards.
However, Nathan Peart, a Managing Director at legal recruiters Major, Lindsey & Africa, has slammed the SRA's guidance, saying it does not reflect "the realities of high-octane law firm culture"
"Guidance to support lawyers’ wellbeing and improve work-life balance will only create more red tape and, on its own, is unlikely to have a positive impact,” said Peart.
"In practice, clients pay high fees with the expectation of exceptional delivery of service which in turn creates a high-pressured workplace," said the recruitment director in an article in City AM.
"There is still an expectation in law that if you cannot stand the heat then you should get out of the kitchen. After all, there will always be candidates waiting in line who are prepared to put up with the intensity of law firm culture to get ahead," Peart said, apparently viewing law firms as a cross between a Full Metal Jacket boot camp and Squid Game.
When RollOnFriday asked Peart about his comments on the SRA guidance, the recruiter appeared to take a softer tone. “If law firms proactively seek to adapt their approach to workplace culture to align with the SRA guidance, then it can serve as a useful blueprint moving forward," Peart told RollOnFriday.
"If this is achieved," he added, "then junior lawyers entering into the profession for the first time can enjoy a degree of relief from the high-intensity culture, and without concerns that they will be ousted by a peer who is willing to withstand the intensity.”
The SRA declined to comment.