Legal Perspectives on the Growing Intersection of the Adult Entertainment Industry and the Legal Profession

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Lawyers are closely supervised and regulated in their professional lives, but it is difficult to know where to draw the line to prevent intrusion into their personal lives.

Revelations regarding a solicitor who has recently been found to be involved in the world of adult entertainment have raised some important questions. In a recent poll, nearly 30% believed practising lawyers should be allowed to appear in pornography with their identities known while 31% approved if they were under a stage name. Only 32% said they should not under any circumstances, while 8% were unsure. It is evident that this is not clear-cut, and these results reflect changing attitudes in the legal profession.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) announced in April that firms and lawyers must “treat colleagues fairly and with respect, and not to engage in bullying, harassment and unfair discrimination”. This policy raises concerns for some lawyers as they believe it could be used to investigate their private lives and bring the profession into disrepute.

The SRA has also stated that even where there is no link between the conduct and the individual’s private life, they might investigate it if the conduct is so serious that it could damage public confidence in the legal profession. Abusing a position of authority or taking unfair advantage will be an aggravating factor which will increase the likelihood of regulatory action.

So, what does it mean for you, the employer? 

It is challenging to manage your employees’ actions outside the workplace. You must consider the duty of care that the organisation owes its staff, and the general well-being of staff, and handle situations with sensitivity.   

So, how should you protect your business? 

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the social media misuse conduct, fairly and independently, collating evidence
  • Interview the worker privately but avoid making accusations, allowing the employee time to respond
  • Arrange a meeting with the employee before deciding whether to take disciplinary action
  • Implement a comprehensive conduct policy to set the bar for acceptable behaviour in the office and in private life
  • Update your disciplinary policy so that it lists examples of what is likely to amount to gross misconduct, along with relevant sanctions Consider updating your contract of employment to include terms that expressly prohibit certain types of activity and 
  • Provide training on appropriate and inappropriate behaviours in the workplace. 

Capital Law Employment Investigations Unit  

If you are faced with an employment issue affecting your workplace culture, our team of experienced independent and impartial employment investigators can help. Please call us for an initial chat on 0808 196 3151 or learn more here.