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DLA junior associate struck off for faking documents
01 April 2016
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A DLA Piper junior associate has been struck off for faking court documents.

28-year-old Laura Holloway was working in the firm's Sheffield office in 2013 when her supervisor called her in for a meeting with the office HR director following a concerned call from a client.

The client had discovered that his case has been struck out of the county court, but Holloway had not told him. Or the firm. When quizzed, the 2PQE solicitor admitted that the claim had been thrown out because she had failed to pay a court fee or respond to a Notice to Pay. But she said that she had submitted a reinstatement application. After leaving the meeting for 15 minutes to find the documents, reports the Law Gazette, Holloway returned with copies of the application and two letters she sent to Croydon County Court.

Except she hadn't sent them, as a subsequent internal investigation by DLA discovered. When management called her in again, she told them that she had "reproduced" the documents, although in fact they were the only ones that had existed. Confessing that she had been dishonest, she said there were "mitigating factors".


  "This is a great idea. This is definitely a great idea."

Holloway was sacked on the spot, but appealed the decision. She lost and the firm reported her to the SRA, which referred her to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the basis of several allegations, including failing to act in the best interests of her client, failing to provide a proper standard of service and failing to act with integrity. Holloway did not cooperate with the investigation or attend her hearing, and this week was struck off the roll and ordered to pay £5,900 costs.

A spokeswoman for DLA Piper declined to comment. Meanwhile, DLA Gashgate parter Nick West awaits his turn in the SDT spotlight.

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anonymous user
01/04/2016 08:06
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Whilst not condoning the associate's actions, surely the firm must take its share of responsibility for seemingly not having a culture where she could have owned up to her mistakes. We all make them, and it's an integral part of the learning process to allow more junior staff to own up to them without fear of an overly-harsh sanction. It's a shame that a moment of madness has cost this person her career.
anonymous user
01/04/2016 10:32
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agree with the above - got to feel sorry for her
anonymous user
01/04/2016 12:15
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Even if it scares the hell out of you, you've got to be honest. It's not the right profession for you otherwise.
anonymous user
01/04/2016 12:55
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She did have an opportunity to explain what happened - when she was first called into a meeting. She then chose to make things worse for herself....
anonymous user
01/04/2016 18:03
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She wasn't struck off because she made a mistake and was scared to own up. She was struck off for dishonestly trying to cover up that mistake. This is completely on her. She might've lost her job if she'd fessed up, but that's about the worst case scenario.
anonymous user
01/04/2016 20:41
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I'm a client of DLA and I can see that that their culture would lead her to try to cover her tracks. That said, they are very good at litigation because of their ballsy culture.

My first ever boss always said if you make a mistake put your hand up because we can probably fix it, it's only when you try to do it yourself or cover it up that it becomes impossible to fix. In another firm they had the nicest ever partner as the prof neg partner. He was totally nonjudgmental if you went to see him to fess up, which I had to on one occasion though it turned out I was wrong about being wrong.

DLA had a problem on one file. There are other firms with a similar profile who to my knowledge have had much bigger problems like this but they didn't report to the SRA so avoided this publicity. DLA did the right thing in my view in the knowledge it would become public. They could have hushed it up, or maybe not as they spend their lives on the pages of this esteemed website!
anonymous user
03/04/2016 17:26
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A total failure by DLA to look after their own. Who'd have thought.
anonymous user
03/04/2016 19:53
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DLA should take some responsibility for this. This girl must be reasonably intelligent to have got into DLA in the first place. The fact that she actively chose to try and cover up the mistake shows that the alternative wasn't really a viable option - the fear of owning up obviously clouded her judgement. A culture of fear will inevitably lead to further incidents like this. I suspect the supervising lawyer, who should also take some of the rap, has come out of it all unscathed.
anonymous user
05/04/2016 08:00
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It always seems to be DLA.
anonymous user
05/04/2016 22:31
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Wow, I can't believe some of these comments!

This isn't a first seat trainee panicking and making a silly mistake. She was 2 PQE, meaning she'd been a lawyer for a full 4 years, who chose to conceal critical information to the detriment of her own client and then lie about it when challenged. I'm finding it really tough to see how striking her off was anything but a fair result.

I'm not saying DLA shouldn't have had better or more open lines of supervision, such that it shouldn't have been possible for the matter to reach this stage, but we're a regulated profession and there needs to be some individual accountability.
anonymous user
06/04/2016 09:13
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I would agree that it's difficult to see how her career as a solicitor could be saved given her decision to, effectively, commit document fraud in pursuit of her own interests.

On the other hand, here's a general rule: in 99% of situations where someone who works for you does something stupid like this, there's something you could have done to prevent it, and you probably owed it to the person in question to do so. And let's just say that some firms have a good reputation for looking after their people, such that when this sort of thing happens you tend to think: oh well, I guess they just came across a bad apple. Whereas there are some firms with, well, not so good a reputation for workplace culture where you think [i]"hmm - it's probably you"[/i]. At least to an extent.
anonymous user
06/04/2016 09:13
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I would agree that it's difficult to see how her career as a solicitor could be saved given her decision to, effectively, commit document fraud in pursuit of her own interests.

On the other hand, here's a general rule: in 99% of situations where someone who works for you does something stupid like this, there's something you could have done to prevent it, and you probably owed it to the person in question to do so. And let's just say that some firms have a good reputation for looking after their people, such that when this sort of thing happens you tend to think: oh well, I guess they just came across a bad apple. Whereas there are some firms with, well, not so good a reputation for workplace culture where you think [i]"hmm - it's probably you"[/i]. At least to an extent.
anonymous user
06/04/2016 17:15
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I have to agree somewhat with the comments that on the facts as they are reported here, this reflects badly on the firm culture. To go straight from a "concerned call from a client" to a formal meeting with HR present seems very heavy-handed. What's wrong with an informal conversation to get the situation resolved, and then find out whether there was a reason, ie, whether she forgot or was not coping with her workload, etc? It may be that if they had approached it less aggressively, she would not have been tempted to cover her tracks.