A former junior solicitor struck off when she lied about a missing briefcase says she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support coming in from the profession.
Claire Matthews confirmed last month she intended to appeal the decision to strike her off the roll after a hearing at which she was unrepresented against SRA lawyers.
Matthews is now being represented by specialist regulatory lawyers working pro bono, but she must still raise £40,000 to cover any adverse costs order if her appeal is unsuccessful. The GoFundMe appeal last week passed £10,000 after pledges of financial support from 374 donors.
Matthews, who now works in an NHS call centre, said: 'I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to help me to reach a quarter of my target in such a short space of time. I feel very strongly that it is important that I continue with my appeal, to raise awareness of the impact of mental health within the profession.
‘However, the costs risks I am facing in order to do this will potentially be significant. Therefore, I am extremely grateful that others in the profession, and beyond, have been so kind and generous in supporting me.’
Matthews has already confirmed that any surplus funds after meeting any costs will be donated to LawCare, the charity promoting good mental health and wellbeing for the legal profession and their families. If she is successful in her case those surplus funds raised will also be donated to LawCare.
Her case attracted attention when it emerged she had been struck off for her conduct after she lost the briefcase just a few weeks into starting a new job with national firm Capsticks. When asked where the briefcase was, she initially told her firm it was still at home, then after a week she said it had been lost but only that morning.
She must appeal the decision to strike her off at the High Court. Her legal team, Gideon Habel and Emma Walker from London firm Leigh Day, Mary O’Rourke QC and Rosalind Scott Bell of Deans Court Chambers, and Mark Harries QC of Carmelite Chambers, are all working pro bono on the case.
Matthews has filed her appeal on the grounds that the tribunal failed to investigate and properly weigh up the impact of the incident on her mental health and therefore it erred in its findings in relation to misconduct and dishonesty.
Last week, the Junior Lawyers Division said it had lost confidence in the SRA to investigate cases where young practitioners have been working under extreme pressure and in a toxic environment.