A former managing partner at Baker McKenzie sought a promotion after being sanctioned for propositioning a junior solicitor in his hotel room, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard today.
Andrew Tabachnik QC, for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said Gary Senior considered what position he could ‘get promoted to after [his] managing partner term’, having ‘put a lid on the Person A situation’.
According to Tabachnik, Senior hoped to take up the role of chief executive at Baker McKenzie following a discussion with the firm’s chairman. He then emailed ‘long thoughts’ to Thomas Cassels – a partner who is also being prosecuted by the SDT – about the position.
According to Baker McKenzie this role never materialised. Instead, when Senior’s time as managing partner ended he joined the firm’s global executive committee as one of two representatives of the Europe office.
Asked whether he went on with his life as normal after the investigation, Senior said: ‘I was very troubled by this for a period. But the question was “am I allowed to carry on with my career?”, and the answer was “yes”'.
The tribunal also heard that Senior was forced to retire in 2018 after the story broke in the media, and he received ‘strong advice from PR advisers to adopt a mea culpa approach’.
Senior said: ‘I was told the publicity, even without me being named, effectively made it impossible for me for me to operate…There was no suggestion the retirement was requested on regulatory grounds.’
Following the original Baker McKenzie investigation, Senior received a final written warning and his tenure as managing partner was shortened. He was also subject to alcohol restrictions and attended ‘personal coaching’ on diversity.
Senior, admitted in 1986, is accused of trying to embrace and kiss Person A in 2012 despite receiving no indication of consent, and persisting despite Person A indicating that it was not appropriate. Senior, who last year left Baker McKenzie, allegedly acted knowing he was in a position of authority and responsibility. He denies the allegation.
Thomas Kennedy Cassels and Martin Lawrence Blackburn, who were with Baker McKenzie in 2012 as a partner and head of HR respectively, are being prosecuted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in relation to the investigation that began when Person A made a complaint. The firm is also being prosecuted.
The hearing continues.