A law firm is a business like any other and, as a business, it can be tried for the same injuries, employment disputes and other legal issues as everyone else. Take a look…
There are a huge array of legal issues that firms need to adhere to, and law firms are no exception to this rule. If anything, they are responsible for more than just the average business; they have peoples’ lives in their hands.
Because of this, lawyers are subject to their own rules and regulations too. For example, law firms in the UK can be sued for professional negligence, and can be investigated by the SRA or Legal Ombudsman, if they receive a complaint or fail to follow these organisation’s rules.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the reasons why a law firm might require legal help, from employment law to complaints to regulatory bodies.
4 Reasons Why Law Firms Might Require Legal Help
As we said in the intro to this post, law firms are subject to the same laws as any other company which means they could require legal help for a number of reasons. To save this post from becoming a huge list of things businesses can get sued for, we’re just going to discuss the most common reasons law firms require legal help.
1. Sued for Negligence
A solicitor can be sued for negligence the same way any other professional can. In fact, these cases are fairly common for law firms, especially when they lose a case a client wanted to win.
For those who don’t know, professional negligence is when a professional fails to perform their responsibilities to the standard expected of their clients. For the claim to be successful, the client has to prove that they suffered financial loss, physical damage or injury. You can also sue your lawyer for negligence, you just need to prove that the attorney took for granted your case by missing the deadline, filed some wrong documents, made mistakes, and did not comply with court orders.
Even if the law firm is found to be in the right, they might still be liable for legal fees or at least the cost of closing the firm whilst the proceedings take place. Professional negligence is definitely a reason for law firms to require legal help.
2. Sued for Employment Grievances
As an employer and a business in general, law firms can be sued for harassment and other workplace related issues. In these instances, it wouldn’t make sense to use their own solicitors to represent them, as they could be biased towards the employer or employee.
As any other employer can, law firms could be sued for any of the following employment disputes:
- Unfair dismissal
- Wrongful dismissal
- Constructive dismissal
- Discrimination (due to race, sex or religion)
- Stress-related illness
One thing that saves the employer when it comes to law firms is that the solicitor who is suing them knows how difficult employment tribunals can be. So, they will be less likely to enter the tribunal process.
Most employees see huge sums in news articles and expect it to be easy to win. The fact is, many claimants report that they wouldn’t have entered the process if they’d known how stressful and difficult it would be.
So, although law firms require legal help in these instances, their employees are less likely to sue them, making it less of a threat than it is for other employers.
3. Sued for Injuries in the Workplace
It might not seem like it, but with 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the UK in 2019, many of those affected could be solicitors.
It’s much easier to prove a workplace injury than unfair dismissal or harassment, but it still takes quite a lot of careful document collection on the part of the defendant. This would likely be an easier lawsuit to file for a solicitor, as they should know exactly what documentation to collect.
Therefore, being sued for injuries in the workplace is more likely against a law firm, one in which they would require legal help to succeed.
4. Investigated for Breaking SRA and LeO Regulations
Outside of the usual lawsuits that can be filed against other professionals and businesses, lawyers have to also abide by strict regulations in order to practice.
Legal Ombudsman (LeO)
The Legal Ombudsman’s job is to consider the level of customer service a law firm has provided. They don’t delve into whether the lawyer was negligent, or whether the advice given was legally or factually correct.
They essentially determine whether the advice given to a client by a law firm was reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. If the LeO determine that the advice was insufficient they have to decide what to do to put things right.
These decisions are enforceable by the court, in which case the law firm would require legal help to get them through the case.
Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Complaints can also be raised by a client to the Solicitors Regulation Authority if they believe the conduct of the solicitors was improper.
The SRA’s role is to “set, promote and secure in the public interest, standards of behaviour and professional performance necessary to ensure clients receive a good standard of service and the rule of law is upheld.”
If the law firm being investigated by the SRA is seen to represent a risk to the public or consumers, or they fail to cooperate with the authority, they can take formal enforcement against them.
In really serious cases, the SRA can control the law firm’s practice, discipline them, and even remove them from practice if the risk is very serious. Basically, if a law firm finds themselves on the wrong end of the SRA, they will definitely require legal help to see them through.
Any Other Reasons a Law Firm Might Require Legal Help?
In this post, we’ve shared the most common ways in which a law firm might find themselves in trouble and require legal help.
As we said earlier in this post, there are many other ways law firms could find themselves in legal trouble. They are subject to the same rules as other businesses and professionals, but the ones listed here are the most likely offenders.