It's hard not to inflate, when everyone else is doing it
A head of department has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for dishonestly providing exaggerated billing figures when applying to join Dentons and Hill Dickinson.
Tracey Ann Sheehan was an experienced solicitor and the head of telecommunications at Hill Dickinson. The SDT found that Sheehan had inflated her billing figures when she applied to join Dentons as an equity partner in 2015, following a move from Taylor Wessing. And also when she switched firms from Dentons to Hill Dickinson in 2017.
According to a report in the Law Society Gazette, the SRA cited an example to the tribunal where Sheehan told Dentons she had billed £220,000 on one matter, when she had actually only billed £3,837. Sheehan denied that she had acted dishonestly, and told the tribunal that the figures to Dentons did not represent the amount she had actually billed, but what she would have billed at Taylor Wessing, had she had sufficient resources.
Between 2016 and 2017, Sheehan applied to join Hill Dickinson as a partner, and gave them a business plan with her billings at Taylor Wessing and Dentons. The SRA said that Sheehan said that she had billed £1.4m in one year at Dentons, when she had billed just £177,000 over her two year stint at the firm.
The matter was brought to the SRA's attention after Dentons spotted a discrepancy in Sheehan's purported historical billings and her earnings. Dentons requested Taylor Wessing to disclose information about Sheehan's billings during her time at that firm. In 2017, following an investigation by both firms, Sheehan was reported to the SRA.
Sheehan's lawyer told the tribunal that Taylor Wessing did not record billing figures in the same format at Dentons requested. And he also said that Dentons had concerns about Sheehan before she started at the firm, and had wanted to "oust" her.
The tribunal struck Sheehan off the roll, and ordered that she pay costs of £51,615. The decision is open to appeal. Roffers have been opining on the case on the discussion board.
"We note the outcome of the SDT's prosecution, which follows a report we made to the SRA in 2017 regarding representations Ms Sheehan made during her recruitment process prior to joining the firm in 2015", a spokesman for Dentons told RollOnFriday.
Hill Dickinson, Taylor Wessing and the SRA declined to comment. Sheehan's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.