Lawyers rush to defend Leigh Day paralegals suspended for allegedly ‘touting’ for Grenfell Tower fire business

A lot of love shared in the Legal Cheek comments

Lawyers have attempted to weather the Leigh Day Grenfell Tower storm this week, using social media and the Legal Cheek comments section to defend the firm’s embattled paralegals.

First a quick recap of the story: allegations two paralegals had been “touting” for Grenfell Tower business have recently come to the fore. The pair’s names, Harnita Rai and Sejal Sachania, reportedly appeared on a poster offering free legal support to fire victims. A disclaimer on the poster apparently stated that a third party “may charge for their services”. Significantly, it is being reported that the poster in question did not contain official Leigh Day contact details for the two rookies, but listed non-work email addresses instead.

The top human rights firm has suspended the training contract hopefuls while an internal investigation is pursued, but did the paralegals do wrong? Not everyone is convinced.

Take Richard Moorhead. In a lengthy Twitter thread, the UCL academic said that “the evidence of ‘touting’ by two clerks appears to be a poster. A poster is not touting”. He continued:

Lawyer Andrew Vickerstaff suggested suspending the paralegals was a “heavy handed” move by the firm:

While others expressed their concern via the Legal Cheek comments section. Here’s a flavour of some of the comments we’ve received:

This surprises me. At some outfits this would be deemed “showing initiative”.

Unclear why this is so wrong if they truly were only offering free legal support?

Provided the firm was not mentioned on the poster, what is the issue with this?

Some balance has been provided by the Mail Online comments section and other social media users. Over at the former, one commenter said the firm has “no morals or ethics at all”; another described its lawyers as “lower then a snakes belly” (sic). One reader commented: “Time to clamp down on legal aid….the system is being exploited and abused by lawyers and criminals/terrorists.”

It’s worth noting the likes of these tweets too:

When we got in touch with Leigh Day to get its take on all this, we were told the firm is unable to comment because an internal investigation is ongoing. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) too is unable comment at this stage, and will only be able to do so if and when a regulatory decision is taken. It is worth noting SRA rules prohibit cold calling and other similarly intrusive methods, but this does not mean all promotional/marketing material is banned.

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14 Comments

Bongo

I think we are missing the real issue here: did Leigh Day really not know what they were doing?

Seems hard to believe 2 employees of a law firm would think it was OK to do this without at least asking someone at the firm first.

And, if they did feel it was OK to just do this, what does this say about the culture of Leigh Day….?

P.S. if this was really a charitable act then why did it mention the likelihood of having to pay for legal services later…i.e. from Leigh Day…?

(7)(10)
Anonymous

I don’t understand the assumption that they were doing this on behalf of Leigh Day. Lots of people do pro bono work or other volunteering quite apart from their employed work. And surely the reference to a ‘third party’ was just an acknowledgement of the fact that the paras here were not equipped to take the case all the way through the courts themselves and therefore that someone who took them up on their offer might end up having to pay legal fees at some stage. That seems like a responsible thing to put on the poster to me.

(34)(0)
Paffendorf

I totally agree. They weren’t doing this to get Leigh Day’s buns buttered.

(12)(3)
Anonymous

What I don’t quite understand is how this is wrong and why it’s being painted so.

Grenfell victims will undoubtedly have legal issue which need resolving, Leigh Day are well placed to service this whether on CFA/Pro bono/etc.

They have not done anything wrong, it’s the damn newspapers kicking up a shit storm about nothing, preventing people from getting help they deserve.

(24)(1)
Leonard

Totally agree. Try and help someone out and you get shot down. Fine, don’t get free or cheap legal advice then. People who read print media are generally idiots. People in this country are generally idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Especially over 50s. Old fashioned farts.

(13)(1)
Anonymous

Would be nice to hear something from the paralegals themselves to understand the full background to this.

(5)(1)
Clifford the Big Red Chance

I think Legal Cheek have done the comment examples a disservice by not including the names of the commenters. That’s half the fun on these articles!

(1)(1)
Anonymous

Forget love. Their partner published a very interesting article online on 16 June. Take a read for yourselves: https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/News-2017/June-2017/Lawyers-urge-immediate-support-for-victims-of-Gren

It’s pretty clear who wrote the poster. But the firm seems to have gotten in front of the story in the media in order to control the story. The SDT affair does not appear to have prompted internal reflection on ethics, processes or responsibility. . . Frightening times for all paras whose firms see them as a cottage industry to be exploited.

(1)(1)
Anonymous

Should have bribed an Iraqi middleman to get the clients. SDT has said that’s OK.

(9)(1)
Anonymous

They all just want to get on the public inquiry gravy train.

(2)(1)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

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