A family solicitor who attacked her former boyfriend in his home has been suspended from practising for 15 months. Rebecca Harling, 39 this year, was convicted last October at Woolwich Crown Court of actual bodily harm and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Harling told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that she still had much to offer the profession and her personal experience may even enhance her empathy when dealing with vulnerable clients.
Her suspension from practice was agreed with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ordered by the tribunal earlier this month. She will also pay £1,500 costs.
The tribunal heard that on 21 April last year Harling had gone to the flat of her former boyfriend, by whom she believed she was pregnant, and was pushed to the ground after he reacted badly to her presence. She went to the kitchen for a glass of water, then when he said she should have asked for permission she struck him in the face with the glass. He suffered cuts to his earlobe that required stitching and gluing in hospital.
In sentencing, the judge noted there was no premeditation and no aggravating features, plus Harling had no convictions and was not a risk to the public. The judge noted additional mitigation in the extent of her fall from grace and losses she was likely to suffer. On the same day as her conviction, Harling resigned from her firm and reported the conviction to the SRA.
In her own mitigation, not endorsed by the SRA, Harling said her personality and attitude were shaped by a number of traumatic personal incidents in adult life, which culminated in her being in an abusive and controlling relationship with her ex-boyfriend. She apologised for her actions and acknowledged that her conduct fell below the high standards expected of a solicitor, but insisted her personal experience would not deter future clients from instructing her.