The clock is ticking. In less than three weeks, firms will be obliged to display the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s digital badge on their websites.
For London-headquartered international firms, the requirement poses a problem. Do they particularly want to shout to clients in Silicon Valley or Shanghai that they are beholden to the England and Wales regulator, which in turn is overseen by a super-regulator perceived (however unfairly) as being under the sway of the UK government? Even if that’s OK, do they want their expensively designed online presence cluttered with what some describe as a lavatorial squiggle?
For whatever reason, none of the magic circle firms feature the badge on their landing page. While all are ticking the box of compliance, finding the badge involves a certain amount of clicking and scrolling.
Slaughter and May does a reasonable job: a footnote on ‘Legal and regulatory information’ takes you through to a page displaying the badge. Freshfields gets you there in two clicks, but with a lot of scrolling. Likewise at Linklaters, visitors who scroll down to the very foot of the page will see a ‘Legal notices’ link in very small typeface. It clicks through to a page with the badge. Allen & Overy, however, requires three clicks from the home page, via ‘Country specific’. And Clifford Chance takes us on a magical mystery tour via ‘People and places’ to ‘Legal statements’ to ‘United Kingdom’.
Obiter waits with interest to see how the big beasts will respond when the SRA’s price transparency campaign focuses on them.