By -

It is that time of year again. The 31st of March looms - the deadline for us completing our annual mandatory CPD.

This year, that deadline falls right in the middle of Easter. For those of you who like leaving things to the last minute, please plan carefully.

Here, the Ethics team of the Professional Support Unit are already out there and doing our best to make sure everyone has their “Ethics Hour” done. We provide that complimentary one hour of compulsory ethics training to as many of you as our diaries allow.

Of course, that Ethics Hour is, to me, both essential and enjoyable. Ethics is just so interesting. However, I appreciate that others may not be necessarily quite so keen. In fact, I know that some of my audience members are perhaps seeking confirmation that this is a good use of their time. So here are a few reasons why the Ethics Hour is worthwhile.

First, the ethical route is not always clear. Certainly some situations are clear – not lying, for instance. But what does the administration of justice mean and what do we have to do to uphold it? What is in the client’s best interests? Do we have to point out another solicitor’s mistake? These situations are more subtle. By considering them in the Ethics Hour, we gain clarity of what we need to do, dispelling the grayness.

Second, in discussing ethics with colleagues during an Ethics Hour, we foster collegiality. Our ethical situation is unique such that the only people who can really understand are our colleagues. That collegiality then helps our mental wellbeing and also hopefully lessens the rudeness we still encounter occasionally from some colleagues.

Third, I like to see the Ethics Hour as doing our regular office fire drill or the safety demonstration on the plane. The purpose is to make it second nature, so that we don’t have to think but rather we automatically recognise an ethical problem. Then we can address it and move on, rather than get ourselves inadvertently into an ethical pickle.

Fourth, we save time and money. By recognising ethical problems quickly and accurately, we don’t have to spend so much time on them. Ethical problems are very costly if we get them wrong, especially if we end up with a regulatory issue.

Fifth, there is public perception. Our profession does have a public image problem. This upsets me greatly because I see so many wonderful solicitors doing a wonderful, ethical job for their clients with such skill and care. Yet the public constantly rates us poorly. Therefore, to be able to say yes, we have to do an Ethics Hour each year, can only improve our public image.

So there are a few reasons why I think the Ethics Hour is important. Hopefully, that will make you all even more happy to be doing your Ethics Hour. And yes, if you were wondering, we in the Ethics Department have to do our Ethics Hour just like everyone else. But, unlike everyone else, we do about 100 Ethics Hours a year!

The NSW Law Society’s Professional Support Unit (PSU) provides complimentary CPD sessions in Ethics, Costs and Regulatory Compliance, as well as confidential and complimentary guidance in those areas. To get in touch with PSU, please contact:

Costs: [email protected] or (02) 9926 0116

Ethics: [email protected] or (02) 9926 0114

Regulatory compliance: [email protected] or (02) 9926 0115