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Linklaters asks lawyers to disclose romantic relationships — if there might be a conflict of interest

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As magic circle titan launches harassment helpline

Linklaters has asked its lawyers to disclose personal relationships which could lead to conflicts of interest within the workplace.

The magic circle player said it now expects its partners, lawyers and support staff to discuss the existence of such a personal romance with “an office, group or practice head or HR contact” to ensure “any actual or potential conflict of interest” is properly managed. While stressing consensual relationships between colleagues were not prohibited, Links said the new guidance was about ensuring it acted as a “responsible business”, and that it is not simply “prying” on lawyers’ love lives.

Relationships where a conflict of interest is likely to arise would include, the firm said, “those between a partner or director and an employee/contractor or between people where they are in a direct reporting line or where one can unduly influence the performance assessment, career progression, promotion (including the partner election process), work allocation or remuneration of the other”.

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The elite firm has also launched an external “whistleblowing hotline”, which staff can use to report unacceptable behaviour including harassment, discrimination and bullying. The service, SpeakUp, is operated by an independent company and allows staff to report their concerns anonymously. On this, the firm said:

“When making a report, individuals do not have to give their name or contact details and once an issue has been raised a written report of concerns will be passed on to a small designated group of recipients internally to enable an appropriate investigation to take place. The report will never be provided to anyone named within it.”

The SpeakUp service is currently available to Links staff working in the UK, the Americas and Asia, and will be rolled out in other offices in due course.

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