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Leigh Day suspends two paralegals accused of ‘touting’ for business among Grenfell Tower fire victims

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19

Not ideal when you’re angling for a training contract

The top human rights firm cleared last month over Iraq murder compensation claims has been hit by yet more controversy after two of its paralegals were accused of “touting” for business among Grenfell Tower fire victims.

The names of Leigh Day training contract hopefuls Harnita Rai and Sejal Sachania were found on a poster offering free legal support to “kick-start any potential insurance claims and review any complex documents” that was located near the scene of last month’s tragic fire, The Times reported on its front page on Saturday.

A disclaimer on the poster apparently stated that although the pair were acting for free, a third party “may charge for their services”.

Reacting quickly to the allegations, Leigh Day immediately suspended the pair and launched an investigation, before tweeting this statement:

Solicitors are prohibited from touting for business. In relation to the practice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states on its website:

Solicitors and their agents are banned by the Code of Conduct from proactively approaching potential clients in person in a bid to increase business. Marketing strategies should be non-intrusive, a rule that also bans cold calling.

However, the SRA doesn’t regulate paralegals or trainees, whose oversight is something of a grey area.

Significantly, it is being reported that the poster in question did not contain official Leigh Day contact details for Rai and Sachania, but rather listed non-work email addresses.

Legal Cheek has been attempting to get in contact with the pair, but they have understandably gone to ground, even removing their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. The last recorded tweet featuring either is by The Times journalist who broke the story, Sean O’Neill, seeking to get in touch with Rai.

Previously

Iraq torture case: Leigh Day cleared of ALL misconduct following longest solicitor disciplinary tribunal in history [Legal Cheek]

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19 Comments

Anonymous

How do you know they are training contract hopefuls?

(8)(3)

Anonymous

Are you suggested people are only paralegals when they can’t become lawyers… bit disrespectful to paralegals.

(7)(3)

Broflake

Strike ’em off!

(11)(4)

LD Para

NEE-NAW! NEE-NAW!

I smell money and burning integrity!!!

(5)(4)

Disgusting of Tonbridge Swells

This surprises me.

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

(22)(1)

Anonymous

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

(27)(1)

Broflake

“a third party “may charge for their services””

Yeah sounds free……………………………………………

(19)(2)

Ethics Student

Wot? Isn’t touting mandatory?
And sexual services etc

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Is there an expectation at that firm for paralegals to bring in business? I don’t believe that they decided to do this without some sort of pressure or guidance from the firm.

(1)(3)

zan

Hopefully they can reflect on their stupidity. They did the right thing removing their profiles for now. My advice is lie low if Leigh Day will take you back, work for a while then leave with a reference. At least they have learned a hard lesson at this stage ….if they were regulated by the SRA they prob wouldn’t be able to come back from it.
What annoys me is the fact that firms don’t realise just how naiive and daft people can be, most of us students have no real life experience of covering our backs. You don’t know until something happens or someone warns you in advance. What happened to real mentors who care? I find it hard to believe that no one at the firm heard anything about it. There was prob a large group of bi*ches back at LD waiting for sh*t to hit the fan. I feel sorry for the paralegals to be honest.

(3)(16)

Sir Geffroy De Joinville

Ce n’est pas ze para-legals ze guillotines are out for.

(3)(2)

The Voice of Reason

Firstly, a poster is not ‘touting’ – it is merely an advertisement, and these have been allowed since about 1981.

Whatever else however, this shows pretty poor judgment on the part of these 2 para’s by going ‘off-piste’.

Compared however to shredding a vital document the day before an enquiry needs to see it, it is chicken-feed.

So I would be surprised if LD could fairly dismiss them when they didn’t sack the 5-year qualified shredder…

(20)(1)

Anonymous

I would say they did not personally tout for business and that a poster, like a common radio, tv or newspaper ad, is non intrusive.

So, even if Leigh day were behind it, it looks like a good idea to me. A feature on radio 2 recently suggested that survivors are getting conflicting advice from the police, other authorities responsible for rehousing and Chelsea lbc itself so they probably need help with insurance claims and complex documents – it is a good turn of phrase.

The mention that a 3p may charge is fair enough. E.g. Leigh day or a direct access barrister.

With social media so rife, Times journalists are becoming redundant. The Times should have them in peace.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Why do you say that the SRA doesn’t regulate paralegals or trainees?

It’s nowhere near as simple as that. Have a look at paragraph 13.1(d) of the Code of Conduct, sections 34A and 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 and section 98 of the Legal Services Act 2007…

(2)(0)

MalcolmX'sMum

at worst this was naive. But how on earth is offering free legal support to “kick-start any potential insurance claims and review any complex documents” a bad thing? I’m sure some may have been genuinely interested in taking up the offer.

Surely you’re only ‘touting’ if it’s a paid for service? That these 2 people have received this level of negative press strikes me as rather unfair and almost cruel. Granted, the ‘third party’ disclaimer is ominous. But what if their intentions were entirely in good faith? In fact, on the information very little suggests otherwise..

(9)(1)

Broflake

Bro, literally read the article.

(7)(3)

ANON.

Someone that understands!

(4)(0)

ANON.

Why won’t my comment post?

(0)(0)

ANON.

ORIGINAL COMMENT THAT WOULD NOT POST:

Provided the firm was not mentioned on the poster, what is the issue with this? It’s basically just the media trying to put 2 and 2 together only to make 5.

It would only be fair that these women have “gone to ground” as stated in this blog post. If you take a look at the type of comments purely aimed at Leigh Day, why would you want yourself in the limelight and to be targeted by online trolls in the same way?

It’s so sad to see that all the media are trying to do is to get themselves a front page story out of anything related to the Grenfell fire. At least these two individuals were out there trying to help.

Also, where is the solid proof that these two individuals were ACTUALLY “touting for business”. Who has actually seen the poster? Who has spoken to the individuals/knows the individuals? Therefore, how can people be so easily fooled and bought in by the media’s ASSUMPTIONS?! It’s almost like Chinese whispers with the media; in one paper they’re trainees, in the other they’re paralegals.

Until the public hear from the two individuals and/or see the poster, it’s unfair to make claims and assumptions with very little evidence. Surely anyone with common sense and sound legal knowledge would know so too.

This just goes to show the consequences of wanting to provide pro bono services while being connected to a law firm with quite evidently a bad reputation.

(8)(2)

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