Problem #2 - The SOP is CoerciveThe requirement to adopt, abide by, and promote a SOP is explicitly mandatory, which means that it is coercive. The LSO is not asking you to review the EDI initiative, to consider its merits, and to voluntarily make changes in your practice and law firm. The LSO is not merely leading by example in providing direction, resources, support, and encouragement. Instead, it requires you to state your concurrence. The Law Society has indicated that failure to comply will attract penalties, although they have not been willing to expressly define what they will be, other than to say that “progressive measures” will be taken. Failure to adopt a Statement of Principles is likely to initially result in an obligation to undergo “re-education”, so that you may be told the error of your ways and given a chance to recant. After that the sanction is likely to be administrative suspension of your licence, meaning that you would not be able to practice law. Your livelihood would be in peril.
The Statement of Principles may seem to be just a box to tick on your Annual Report, but it is actually the Law Society’s threat to take away your means of making a living unless you comply with their prescription of what to say and what to think. That is not only coercive, but disturbingly tyrannical.
The #StopSOP Slate of Candidates is committed to repealing Requirement 3(1) of the EDI initiative.