A solicitor with an addiction to drugs has accepted his removal from the roll after two convictions in less than a year.
Lee Robert Lipson, 42 this year, accepted a police caution in April 2016 for possession of class A and class B drugs, and failed to report his conviction immediately to the SRA. Lipson, formerly an assistant solicitor with a Manchester firm, had been arrested in Birmingham and found in possession of cannabis and cocaine, which were both for his own use.
He was convicted less than a year later of driving while under the influence of drugs, having been found with cocaine in his system, and was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. He failed to report he had been charged for this offence until after his conviction, based on advice he had received from his instructed solicitors.
It was accepted that at the time of the misconduct, Lipson was suffering from an addition to prohibited drugs.
The tribunal heard that Lipson had stated in a letter to the SRA in August 2016 that his first conviction came after he ‘confiscated’ the drugs from an ex-partner, with the intention to dispose of them the next day. But in his interview with the police after his arrest in April 2016, Lipson stated the drugs belonged to him and were for his own use.
In his own mitigation, not agreed by the SRA, Lipson said he had no adverse regulatory history and was now seeking treatment for his drugs addictions. He recognised the seriousness of his actions by acknowledging the proper penalty was for him to be removed from the roll.
The tribunal said Lipson’s conduct had inevitably caused significant harm to the reputation of the legal profession. His misconduct in misleading the police initially had the capacity to affect their investigation and was a ‘significant departure’ from the standards of integrity, probity and trustworthiness expected of a solicitor. He was ordered to pay £3,585 in costs in addition to being struck off.