Paralegal who worked for two firms at the same time barred from legal profession

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By Thomas Connelly on

A big price to pay for some extra cash

A paralegal who handled cases for one law firm while being employed by another has been banned from working in the legal profession.

Eugenia Dakwa worked at Camden-based law firm Greenland Lawyers until December 2014. Wasting no time in securing new employment, she joined Bates Wells & Braithwaite (BW&B) in Ipswich as a “legal administrator” in January 2015.

A regulatory settlement agreement reveals that Dakwa, just one month into the job, entered into an “informal agreement with Greenland to work for them on their clients’ matters.” The decision — recently published on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) website — continues:

This work was to be done by Ms Dakwa, according to Greenland, in the evenings at the firm’s offices.

Unfortunately Dakwa was, under the terms of her BW&B contract, not allowed to have other employment outside the firm without prior written permission. Moreover, Dakwa — who completed her Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the College of Law (now The University of Law) in 2004 — did not tell her new employer about her arrangement with Greenland and was actually conducting the additional work on BW&B time.

Eventually, BW&B discovered what the time-poor paralegal was up to and launched a formal investigation.

It discovered, among other things, that the University of Kent graduate was sending “a significant number” of emails to Greenland clients during BW&B’s office hours, and “conducting and updating work” for Greenland clients on BW&B’s systems. BW&B instigated disciplinary proceedings against her in May 2015 and dismissed her shortly afterwards.

The regulator said that her “conduct was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent”. Dakwa apologised for her actions and agreed that a section 43 order — which bans her from working for an SRA-regulated body without its prior permission — was an appropriate sanction.

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