Unqualified former paralegal admits pretending to be a solicitor in High Court

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By CJ McKinney on

A cautionary tale for Suits fans

A former paralegal faces up two years in jail after pleading guilty of pretending to be a solicitor.

In an escapade worthy of US legal drama Suits, Richard Lipscombe even appeared in the High Court before his suspicious client ratted him out to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Lipscombe, 44, pleaded guilty on Friday to acting as a solicitor when unqualified and carrying out a reserved legal activity when not entitled.

Both offences carry maximum prison sentences of up to two years.

The SRA says that Lipscombe had committed the offences in 2015 and 2016 despite being under a barring order.

The Evening Standard reports that Lipscombe, who used to be a paralegal, claimed to be a “grade A fee earner” and represented a client in a High Court civil action in 2016.

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Companies House records show that Lipscombe is the owner of RN-Law Ltd, with an address just off Chancery Lane in the heart of legal London. He gives his occupation as “lawyer”, which unlike “solicitor” is not a protected term.

RN-Law’s website says that it is “not a law firm”, but rather an “independent legal consultancy”. It admits that there are “certain regulatory limitations on what RN-Law Ltd can actually do”, but says that it can legally provide in-house legal services.

But Southwark Crown Court heard that Lipscombe was not as cautious offline, with the Standard reporting that he took a civil claim to the High Court, “introduced himself to his opponent as a solicitor, and did not correct the claim when it was repeated to the judge in open court”.

The SRA confirmed to Legal Cheek that it made an order against Lipscombe on 10 August 2015. Despite that, he carried on “holding himself out to be a solicitor” between 11 August 2015 and 14 July 2016. A separate offence of conducting litigation when unqualified took place between 29 April 2016 and 17 May 2016.

A judge is due to pass sentence on 6 March.

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