One of my most treasured possessions is a copy of A Guide to the Professional Conduct and Etiquette of Solicitors by Sir Thomas Lund. It sets out in book form a series of lectures Sir Thomas gave in the late 1950s when Secretary General of the Law Society. One particular passage I return to again and again which is as follows:
"I should point out at once that standards of professional conduct change as time passes. What is entirely proper for one generation may be slightly irregular for the succeeding generation and highly improper for the next. One can point quite easily in this connection with to the banking of clients' moneys. Only a generation ago there was nothing at all improper in your keeping your clients' money in your own bank account and using it practically as though you were a banker. That position has changed very rapidly, and any such conduct is now without question professional misconduct."
The recent outcry in relation to letter written by banks on separate notepaper is a recent example. I wrote about it here. An important point to make is that this principle also cuts both ways. There are areas which one generation may consider are in need of regulation but the next do not. In Sir Thomas' day the Practice Rules precluded advertising and sharing profits with non-lawyers. Times have changed.