… The majority of professional practices are woefully deficient in detecting the “virus” at the point of introducing it/him into the practice …

Last month I chaired an Association of Partnership Practitioners workshop on “Rogue Partners”.

What was striking was how many members attended (well over 100 leading partnership practitioners) and the intense interest in the topic.

One of the greatest risks faced by any professional practice is the risk that one of its partners will go “rogue”.  Just like a computer with perfect firewalls, that is no protection against a virus that is already inside the computer, particularly where the anti-virus software has been told to recognise the virus as a “trusted program”.

And just to continue the computer analogy, what is equally important is how one deals with the virus once it has been recognised.  Deal with it carefully and you might just rescue the computer and data.  Take the wrong steps and you expose yourself to much greater damage than has already occurred.

The majority of professional practices are woefully deficient in detecting the “virus” at the point of introducing it/him into the practice.  Assumptions are made that the previous professional successes of the joiner are proof of competence and honestly.  I won’t rehearse here the long list of “rogue partners” who had glittering careers before their later activities led them to a change of lifestyle (often including a spell as a guest of Her Majesty, while the missing millions sat somewhere offshore).

I have acted for or against a number of such individuals, and in the course of doing that one gets to know them very well.  Almost without exception they have shared the attributes of being charming and plausible and have oozed technical knowledge and intelligence, just what one is looking for when making a new appointment to a senior role.

The moral of this post is of course to “virus-check” your new joiners thoroughly and to ensure that you apply “anti-virus” controls to them (and all members of the organisation including the most senior).

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