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

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Training contract pressure?

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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9 Comments

Anonymous

Should have just admitted the error and let the firm handle themselves or through prof indem insurer (depending on excess and claims record).

A shame the culture is such that a mistake cannot be admitted and then a cover up happens.

Anonymous

Whilst it is a shame she felt she had to cover up her mistake, still takes a certain type of stupid to use client money…

Anonymous

Agreed. Recall earlier this year some poor chap was using his own wages to cover up a mistake on damages.

Anonymous

What a coincidence! I’m not allowed to work as a solicitor without prior permission from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) either!

Anonymous

Manchester firm Priority Law
Hull firm Ward Legal
Cardiff firm Ageas Law

What a surprise as these are three highly reputable ‘law firms’!

Anonymous

Rival even the MC. Good old Ageas even pays six figures on qualification.

Anonymous

They were probably told to do it or had to take the can. I’d be out the door if I was weary of the firm I working for.

Anonymous

If Vinay Veniek can ‘sully the reputation of the whole profession’ and bounce back then anyone can.

Anonymous

then changed the file name to try and conceal the payment requests that she had made

C’mon, it’s to try to conceal…

Must try harder.

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