A family practitioner who admitted 'I am not really the right type of person to be a solicitor' has been struck off for practising without authorisation and misleading clients.
Stephen Anthony Hogan, admitted in 1997, was a consultant solicitor at national firm Setfords from June 2013 to December 2015. He also traded as Divorce Assistant, which was not regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, from his home address between May 2014 and May 2018. He did not renew his practising certificate after it expired on 31 October 2017.
The SRA's allegations against Hogan included: practising as a solicitor without authorisation; carrying out reserved legal activities when he was not authorised to do so; practising without a practising certificate; misleading the court by stating that he was a solicitor; and misleading clients by failing to inform them that he was not authorised to practise as a solicitor and/or they were not represented by Setfords. Whilst trading as Divorce Assistant, the SRA said Hogan failed to comply with accounts rules by holding client money in a personal bank account and not keeping proper records.
Hogan came to the regulator's attention after Setfords' managing director notified the SRA in 2015.
The judgment states that Hogan admitted the underlying allegations but denied dishonesty.
Hogan said he did not belittle his admitted breaches: 'They are serious and I accept that I am not really the right type of person to be a solicitor. Maybe I never had the right personality for the practicalities of the role. For the record I wish to come off the roll and never be restored. I accept that in qualifying and participating in the profession I was a square peg in a round hole.'
He added that he was 'not the type of man who could cope with the day-to-day organisational politics and pressures that the reality of the profession inflicts upon individuals. I was neither cut out for the networking, the politics of a small firm or the adherence of the day-to-day regulation and management of being a solicitor.'
The tribunal found that Hogan had diverted Setfords leads to Divorce Assistant so that he did not have to share fees and was motivated by personal financial gain. 'He had chosen to create a vehicle with the specific intention of avoiding compliance, regulation and the requirement to have insurance. He had used that vehicle to practise as a solicitor, and undertake reserved legal activities, rather than referring those clients to bodies authorised to act. He had done so in order to retain the fees generated by those clients,' the tribunal added.
Hogan was struck off and ordered to pay £39,525 costs.