Wednesday, 8 December 2010
AGEISM and DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS against Solicitors
When I looked at the numbers of solicitors being investigated by Solicitors Regulatory Authority, I noticed that the majority of investigations affected people above the age of 41. This phenomenon of middle aged professionals being attacked with increased ferocity occurs in other fields such as medicine too.
Social prejudices have been well described in numerous publications, but are there any physiological aspects of aging that could be addressed? While social attitudes of ageism could take a long time to change are there any quick fixes?
The decline in the production of sexual hormones is more obvious in women, but in men it may be more subtle and over prolonged period of time. Many women take hormone replacement therapy, but what about men?
Symptoms of male "menopause" are decreased energy, drive, sweating, back pains and health problems. Click here to read more. These sort of symptoms such as decreased energy and motivation make one less likely to defend one self vigorously, effectively and before the complaints go any further e.g. to the regulator.
I know there are male lawyers who would rather let their spine crumble than consider hormone replacement therapy. To make the matters worse men do not have regular health screening like a woman of reproductive age may do. There is a lack of awareness as well amongst health professionals.
Interpreting some hormonal data can be difficult as it is not just the blood hormonal levels but also receptor sensitivity that matters. Furthermore, in the absence of base blood levels of hormones how can one say that there has been a significant decline?
One approach would be pragmatic and to ask different questions: Does it matter if one supplements without having all the scientific evidence?
Social prejudice is that as professionals get older they are out of touch and incapable. This makes us all more vulnerable to attacks as we get older.
Decrease in sexual appeal is equated with decrease in power in general: physical in particular.
While some organizations have policies against ageism at workplace these are often no more than several paragraphs saying the same thing all over again i.e. that ageism is prohibited.
These policies do not protect professionals from attacks by clients (patients) who could not care less for such policies. And if they read them, it is highly unlikely there would be any admission of guilt.
Stress has influence on a number of hormones such as corticosteroids and sex hormones. The effects on the body are, actually, widespread. Losing cases in court I would expect would lead to a drop in sex hormone levels. Football supporters get a rise in testosterone levels when their team wins. Bankers have higher testosterone levels when their investments are performing well. Yes, it is quite amazing what turns out to be sexy.
It could be argued that sometimes as we get older we have more responsibilities and are made to answer for other people's deficiencies (juniors, administrative errors etc) in a rather dysfunctional manner. As if they should not take responsibility for their own action or omission.
Repeatedly, women are described as professionals who are more caring and more risk averse. There are less women appearing before disciplinary tribunals than men overall.
However, those that do appear may be more severely punished for their transgressions of socially imposed sexual boundaries which expect women to be nice i.e. agreeable and not professionally assertive when they need to be.
Without risk taking how does one take the necessary professional actions?
When one examines the situation amongst doctors one finds there are no surprises as it is psychiatrists and obstetricians who have the most complaints made against them. Client factors matter too, one may observe, as well as the popular public expectations that professionals should be prepared to risk everything to get the job done for them but there are no client responsibilities. Should all patients/clients have to sign a document which places obligations on them to be decent to those providing professional services?
Taking into consideration that some people are totally incapable of acting responsibly (emergencies, lack of insight, mental incapacity) should a document be produced (and witnessed) at the time to such an effect for professionals' protection?
I have been unable to obtain the number of male and the number of female solicitors found guilty by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in London when I asked them for this data. They told me they do not collect this sort of information. Ooops!
Unfortunately, professions will loose the privilege of self-regulation by exhibiting this sort of secrecy and power abuse.
High standards must be protected and expected and not punished by regulators as it has happened in a number of cases already.