Trainee solicitor who used client cash to ‘cover up mistakes’ removed from profession

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By Thomas Connelly on

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A trainee solicitor who used client funds to “cover up” a string of mistakes has been removed from the profession.

Holly Johnson, from Manchester, has been handed a section 43 order, which prevents her from working in a law firm without prior permission from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Johnson joined a property specialist firm in Greater Manchester, Priority Law, as a trainee in July 2015, but was dismissed in December 2016. She was found to have used client cash to “cover up mistakes” on five separate matters and, the SRA’s decision continues, then changed the file name to try and conceal the payment requests that she had made.

The regulator, in a decision published yesterday, found Johnson’s conduct to have been “dishonest” and in breach of their rules. Moreover, it found that the former trainee had failed to “act with integrity”, “behave in a way that maintains the public’s trust” and “protect client money and assets”.

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As well as being handed a section 43 order, Johnson was given a written rebuke, fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £600. The regulator added: “It is not known whether Miss Johnson is currently working at a SRA regulated practice.”

This isn’t the first time a young lawyer hopeful has had a regulator run-in.

Last summer, Legal Cheek reported that a trainee and a paralegal were both slapped with section 43 orders in unrelated cases. Mantas Montvydas — who was a trainee at Hull firm Ward Legal at the time — was found to have “made improper transfers from the firm’s client account to the office account, misled the forensic investigation officer and overcharged on two probate matters”.

Meanwhile, Thomas German — a former litigation paralegal at Cardiff’s Ageas Law — admitted breaching client confidentiality “by sending emails attaching client documents to his partner at another firm of solicitors”.

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