Gary Senior, the ex-London Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie, has been fined £55,000 and ordered to pay the SRA's costs of £40,000 for trying to kiss a junior lawyer against her will. But he avoided being struck off.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that Senior committed serious professional misconduct when he attempted to embrace and kiss a junior colleague without her consent. The incident occurred in 2012 when Senior asked the junior lawyer to stay behind in his hotel room after a work event and drinks.
The tribunal also found that Senior had sought, due to his position of seniority, to improperly influence the subsequent investigation by the firm.
Senior's barrister, Gregory Treverton-Jones QC said the tribunal's decision was a "devastating blow" to his client who had acted in "a moment of madness" after drinking too much.
What Gary's inner monologue should have said (sound required)
At the hearing, the SRA had also accused Baker McKenzie of failing to effectively and independently investigate the complaint and allowed Senior to improperly influence the firm's investigation. However, the SDT dismissed the allegations against Bakers.
The firm's former head of HR, Martin Blackburn, and a former litigation partner, Tom Cassels, who oversaw the investigation, were also cleared of any misconduct by the tribunal.
"The Firm has co-operated fully with the SRA throughout this process. We are pleased that no finding of professional misconduct has been made against Baker McKenzie," a spokesman for the firm told RollOnFriday. He said Bakers was "a different firm" with "new leadership" and had taken action and introduced polices to "ensure that all of our people, regardless of seniority, feel empowered to call out wrong or inappropriate behaviour." He added that "something like this must never happen again."
"I bitterly regret what happened in 2012," Gary Senior said. "The matter was not covered up by the firm in 2012. An investigation was carried out by the firm involving a number of senior partners. At the time I believed I behaved appropriately in that investigation while cooperating with them and no comment to the contrary was made to me by those conducting the process." He said that he could not make any further comment until he had studied the tribunal’s judgment, which will be published in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for the SRA told RollOnFriday: “We will await the SDT’s judgment before considering any further steps.”