The Solicitors Regulation Authority has banned a total of six support staff workers in a single day for misconduct ranging from rewriting wills to misusing season ticket loans.
All six, from different firms, were made subject to notices which prevents them from working for any regulated firm without SRA permission.
Helen Erotokritou, formerly with London firm Kingsley Napley, was barred from the profession after claiming interest-free loans for annual travel passes worth £5,000 from her employers then using the money for other purposes.
Initially Erotokritou, a document production specialist, said she had used the loan monies to buy a pass, but later accepted this was untrue. She has since repaid the loans back in full and was dismissed in February this year after three and a half years with the firm.
Wendy Outhwaite, formerly a secretary with Yorkshire firm Switalskis Solicitors, was found to have fabricated a will in the name of a client, naming herself as a beneficiary of the residual estate. She amended and created documents and also amended a receipt from a jeweller to disguise the true amount she had received for the sale of a client’s jewellery.
She was found to have acted dishonestly and was also fined £7,500.
Hannah Jones, a paralegal with Chester firm Proximo Legal Services Limited, was barred after giving misleading and inaccurate information to clients for a year about the progress of their personal injury claims.
Emily Elizabeth Bale, who spent two years as a paralegal with Bristol firm DAS Law Limited, was found to have missed a court hearing and amended correspondence on a client file to cover her mistake. When initially asked about the hearing, she misled her firm by completing a report with inaccurate information, before later admitting to missing the hearing and to covering up her mistake.
Stephanie Jones, who worked for Worcester firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys Limited in its credit control department, agreed to a barring order after pleading guilty in court to failing to declare a change of circumstances to the Department of Work and Pensions. She had been in receipt of housing benefit since 2015 and joined the firm in 2018. A year later the DWP notified her she had received £6,665 she was not entitled to. She was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.
Jones expressed remorse and said in mitigation she had co-operated with the SRA investigation.
Finally, Geraint Lewis, a paralegal with international firm Eversheds Sutherland based in its Manchester office, admitted to fabricating his manager’s signature on documents he attempted to send to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, where he was applying to become a fellow. He left the firm in January this year and is currently not working. Lewis expressed remorse for what he did and fully admitted his conduct.