find the latest legal job
Inhouse Legal Counsel -18 months-4 PAE - Real Estate Investment Company
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· In brand new prestigious CBD offices
View details
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
'Disgraced' partners suspended from practice

'Disgraced' partners suspended from practice

Three partners at a Melbourne law firm, including one managing partner, have been found guilty of professional misconduct. The trio have been suspended from practice after mishandling more than $300,000.

THREE partners at a Melbourne law firm, including one managing partner, have been found guilty of professional misconduct. The trio have been suspended from practice after mishandling more than $300,000.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ordered the nine-month suspension of the practising certificates of Michael Russell Coldham, Donald Ernest Brookes and Philip Nunn Barton from Anderson Rice Lawyers, for failing to present over $300,000 worth of cheques to third party providers, following charges brought against them by the Legal Services Commissioner.

The lawyers failed to present 216 cheques between 2004 and 2007, for money owed to barristers and expert witnesses.

The lawyers deliberately withheld the cheques in order to reduce the level of debt in their law practice’s overdraft account, the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner said.

This conduct was uncovered during a routine trust account inspection conducted by the Legal Services Board’s delegate, the Law Institute of Victoria, in June 2007. The LIV referred the matter to the LSC, which then commenced an own motion investigation into the practices of the three lawyers.

Following their investigation, the LSC brought three charges for professional misconduct at common law against the three lawyers, all of whom pleaded guilty to the charges.

Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, Michael McGarvie, said the decision should serve as a reminder to the legal profession about the importance of acting with honesty and integrity in all dealings with the community and members of the legal profession.

“It is disgraceful that these lawyers knowingly and willingly withheld payments from fellow members of the profession and professionals from other industries for their own financial convenience,” he said.

“This is a case where the practitioners tried to arrange their financial affairs through dishonest behaviour and were found out by the legal regulators. The legal regulators have rigorous auditing programs in place for identifying this type of activity. Lawyers should therefore think twice before engaging in this type of conduct.”

“Lawyers who are experiencing financial difficulty should seek the assistance of the professional associations or financial support services immediately. The legal regulator and the courts will not forgive financial misconduct,” said McGarvie.

VCAT accepted the LSC’s submission that if the practice had not been detected, it would have continued indefinitely. Further, VCAT said that the lawyers “engaged in disgraceful and dishonourable conduct upon their own admission” and that this case should “send an unmistakable message to the State’s legal profession that this sort of conduct will not be tolerated”.

VCAT also ordered that the lawyers pay the LSC’s costs of $50,000.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

'Disgraced' partners suspended from practice
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Animal law moots, advocacy, Melbourne University, Australia and New Zealand Intervarsity Moot on Animal Law
Sep 25 2017
Moot unleashes animal advocacy
Melbourne has played host to one of the largest animal law moots, with student participants put th...
Scales
Sep 25 2017
Transgender teens should not need legal approval for hormone treatment, court hears
A transgender 17-year-old known as Kelvin has appealed in the Family Court against the requirement o...
Appointed, Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
Sep 25 2017
NFP CEO appointed Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
The CEO of a Victorian not-for profit pro bono legal services provider has been named as the state...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...