The SRA has prohibited a former Herbert Smith Freehills paralegal from working in a legal practice, after she was caught making false overtime claims. 

The paralegal worked in the City firm's disputes team from November 2011 until January 2019. She submitted nine overtime claim forms to the payroll department, totalling 260 hours, over a 10 week period in 2018. The firm noticed that the claims were unusually high, and an internal investigation found they had been signed-off with the initials of a former manager. However, that manager told HSF that they hadn't initialled the documents or approved the overtime.

In 2019 HSF dismissed the employee for gross misconduct and reported her to the SRA. She admitted to the regulator that she had been dishonest by inserting the initials on the claims forms to mislead the firm. 

The SRA held that the paralegal's conduct had "undermined trust in the provision of legal services and the solicitors' profession." The regulator prohibited her from being employed by a solicitor or firm without the SRA's prior permission and ordered that she pay £300 in costs.

The SRA's decision (a Section 43 Order) is not a total ban, as a firm could apply to the regulator for permission to employ the paralegal. The SRA could then approve such an application if various conditions are met, such as the firm closely supervising and monitoring the employee.

The SRA has opted for Section 43 Orders in other recent cases concerning dishonest paralegals, as one conned the court with a forged email, while another backdated a letter.

A HSF spokeswoman told RollOnFriday, “we can confirm that we dismissed a paralegal in January 2019 for misconduct and immediately referred the matter to the SRA.”

Tip Off ROF


Anon 29 January 21 09:56

Presumably the police were also called and she had been sued for the return of the monies? 

Sheldon 29 January 21 15:11

If I was a paralegal for 8 years I would probably also be tempted to scam the firm for more money.

Andre3000 29 January 21 15:16

She was basically on minimum wage doing the same work as a trainee for almost a decade. Can you blame her?

Kangaroo 29 January 21 15:16

These disciplinary cases are already out in the public and writing articles like this to expose the junior lawyers is simply cretin-esque

SRA Yay yay yay 29 January 21 15:52

Another professional bringing the profession into disrepute (the whole profession, presumably there is an objective test) now kicked out of the profession. 

Forging overtime slips over an 8 year period is such bad behaviour, and the amount of loss/damage so great, that it is only right that this individual be named and shamed. 

We are waiting, SRA, with torches and burning crosses .... 

C'est la vie 30 January 21 17:16

Poor behaviour by the individual involved but I also feel a slight amount of sympathy with her situation: HSF and many other UK "squeezed in the middle" type firms are notoriously tight wyhen it comes to signing off on overtime, and often require their paralegals to sweat out long hours only to then turn around and claim they didn't approve them doing doc review until 3.00am even though there's fee earners who pump them to do so.

Best kind of gig is to temporarily paralegal at a US sweatshop and coin it hard before jumping ship. Unfortunately those roles often require the candidate to have a TC lined up which this poor soul obviously didn't. 

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