Top tips for SRA admission where something may need to be disclosed via the Character & Suitability rules
When applying for admission to the Roll of Solicitors, junior lawyers are required to undertake screening checks and make declarations regarding their character and suitability. If you do need to make a disclosure to the SRA, consider the following.
- Do get advice – You may not need to disclose the issue but even where you do, it is essential that you take early advice as to how to disclose the issue to the SRA and what to send with that disclosure. A well-prepared application will stand a much better chance of being successful.
- Do disclose if you need to – If you do need to disclose something, you must do so, a failure to do so is considered prima facie evidence of dishonesty by the SRA. The SRA will consider your failure to disclose as a serious issue and they may refuse your application for admission.
- Do get all the relevant information – if you are going to disclose, make sure you have all the relevant information to hand. The SRA will expect to see independent documents relating to both the issue to be disclosed and remedial steps.
- Do get positive references – it is essential that any application where a character and suitability issue is disclosed is accompanied by suitable references. Anyone who is willing to act as a referee will need to confirm that they are aware of the issue disclosed.
- Do undertake rehabilitative steps – it is essential as part of any disclosure to set out how you have rehabilitated yourself. You should consider carefully what this may mean. For example, where the disclosure relates to a financial issue, steps should be taken to demonstrate learning in respect of the issues involved and evidence of steps to remedy those issues. Where the disclosure relates to a conviction or caution, restorative work such as voluntary and charitable works may be helpful as well as evidence of working in a position of trust or responsibility.
- Don’t bury your head in the sand – if you know you must disclose something to the SRA, you should consider whether it is appropriate to make an application for an early assessment of your Character & Suitability for admission so that you have certainty moving forward. Even where this is not appropriate, taking steps to demonstrate rehabilitation and insight is essential.
- Don’t panic – Stay calm, it is not the end of the World if you must disclose something to the SRA under the character and suitability test. A properly prepared disclosure which demonstrates rehabilitation and insight, as well as setting out any mitigating circumstances, can persuade the SRA that there is no impediment to admission.
If you wish to discuss a Character and Suitability issue, our specialist team of Professional Disciplinary lawyers can help with a wide range of issues including SRA Admission to the Roll of Solicitors. We have advised and helped many junior lawyers achieve their ultimate aim of securing admission to the Roll. Get in touch today.