Acting confidently to build confidence

Certain sections of the media took great pleasure in reporting allegations about goings on at Cameron McKenna and its CIS group. For a while the hacks were round the door writing stories of wrongdoing at the heart of a profession that just a few weeks earlier The Lawyer had reported to be riding high as a business.

Of course if there has been mismanagement or wrongful treatment of the firm's lawyers then such things should come out, but there is no doubt that there was something distasteful about the glee with which some pounced.

It is to Camerons' credit that it has regained control of the situation and launched an inquiry with a formidable figure at its head. What is more it has gone outside the firm.

Whatever the record of the Serious Fraud Office in terms of prosecutions and convictions, George Staple – its former head – has a wealth of experience to bring to bear on what are often complex issues.

Camerons has taken the PR initiative with its actions. Its friends and enemies cannot argue that the firm has failed to act, but Camerons needs to be careful that its desire to be seen to be in control does not backfire.

There is something to be said also for Camerons' speed. It has reportedly given Staple a week to prepare a report. Such decisiveness is to be applauded but the firm must be careful that Staple's report is comprehensive enough not only to provide a ready defence, but also to satisfy observers and the firm's clients.

Secondly, although Staple is not a Camerons man, he is a lawyer from another big City firm. The police know to their cost how internal investigations by officers from another force never quite carry the credibility that an independent investigation can give.

Although, thankfully, law firms are not yet treated with quite the cynicism that police forces are, the profession needs to ensure that any hint of scandal or wrongdoing is dealt with as independently, transparently and effectively as possible if it is not to be viewed that way in the future.