A second paralegal from the same firm has been banned after being found to have logged calls she never made. Lauren Gibb, formerly with National Accident Law Limited based in Kettering, was given a section 43 notice by the Solicitors Regulation Authority after she admitted knowingly adding time units where no phone call had been made.
The decision notice comes just three weeks after another former paralegal from the firm was also banned after inflating the number of calls she had been making. The firm is now doing weekly checks on telephone data.
Gibb was a paralegal in the claims preparation team whose calls were logged by the telephony system even if the outcome was no answer or engaged.
According to the SRA, the firm became aware that the number of units claimed on the system by another paralegal was high compared to the actual calls made: this prompted the firm to review the time recording of all fee earners.
From three randomly selected weeks of Gibb’s time recording data, it was found no corresponding phone call on 43 out of 281 time entries logged, and that she had logged these calls as part of the firm’s automated billing process.
When asked to explain her actions at a disciplinary meeting, she admitted logging the calls in order to increase her daily units and meet targets.
She later admitted to the SRA that her conduct was repeated over a protracted period and was dishonest. The regulator accepted her full admissions and noted that she did not benefit financially from the misconduct.
The section 43 order prevents Gibb from working for any regulated firm. She must also pay £300 costs.
Following the decision notice, the firm said in a statement: 'In January 2021, as a result of the control measures in place at National Accident Law, we identified a number of discrepancies between an employee’s time recording records and our telephony data. The conduct was reported immediately to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A detailed investigation took place and we identified similar behaviour with a second paralegal over the same period.'
'On completion of the internal investigations, we found that time had been recorded for a number of tasks which had not been undertaken. We dismissed both employees on the grounds of gross misconduct and updated the SRA. The invalid time recording entries were removed, and no clients were affected in any way.
'The two paralegals worked together closely. Their behaviour was connected and formed part of the same investigation. Both members of staff had received extensive training. We review our time recording targets frequently and these are in line with industry standards. We now monitor our telephony data on a weekly basis.'