Caught being a little economical with the actualité
A solicitor has been struck off for dishonestly saying in a job interview that she was employed, when she had actually been sacked by her previous firm.
Julie Holdaway joined Fairhurst Menuhin as a conveyancing solicitor in July 2018. The firm dismissed her just two months later for poor attendance.
Holdaway, who had been qualified since 1993, signed up to a recruitment agency, Clayton Legal, and told them she was still working at Fairhurst Menuhin. In May 2019 the recruitment agency put her forward for an interview with Kew Law in Essex.
The conveyancer said in her interview with Kew Law that she was looking to leave her current firm as her department wasn't busy and she occasionally found herself as the only person in the office.
Kew Law initially offered Holdaway a job, but she requested a higher wage than the £34,000 that she claimed to be earning. She also said that she needed to serve one month's notice at her current firm.
A partner at Kew Law thought the notice period was a bit short and when checking the position, discovered that Fairhurst Menuhin had dismissed Holdaway eight months earlier.
When questioned by the recruitment agency, Holdaway claimed that Fairhurst Menuhin didn't have sufficient work for her, and so they let her go. However, it transpired that she had been sacked Holdaway for low attendance during her short stint.
Holdaway, who previously had an unblemished record, told the SRA that she had lied as she was "too ashamed" to explain she had been dismissed and was out of work.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that Holdaway had been dishonest and failed to act with integrity.
The tribunal said that "being unemployed is not a cause for shame or embarrassment," but "misrepresenting facts and lying to a prospective employer" was "wrong and a material breach" of a solicitor's obligations to the public.
In the past, some legal recruiters have been known to stretch the truth a bit by inventing fantasy phone calls or fake members of staff. But in this case, the tribunal highlighted an email from the recruiter to Kew Law, which stated: “As you can imagine when I work with solicitors at this level, you don’t think to even question that what they are telling you in the absolute truth.”
The tribunal struck Holdaway off the roll and ordered that she pay £2,000 in costs.