Freshfields happy to take a hit

Well, it’s not as bad as it could have been.

That was the feeling as a troupe of Freshfields partners made the short walk back to Fleet Street from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) today after Barry O’Brien’s conflict of interest hearing.

Well, it’s not as bad as it could have been.

That was the feeling as a troupe of Freshfields partners made the short walk back to Fleet Street from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) today after Barry O’Brien’s conflict of interest hearing.

Not only was London corporate head Tim Jones let off any proceedings (see story) last Friday, but O’Brien took one for the team by admitting the conflict of interest counts. See story.

O’Brien could have been struck off, but instead was fined a total of £9,000 (out of a maximum £10,000) for two breaches of the solicitors’ code of conduct, and was ordered to pay the Law Society’s £50,000 costs.

As he’s a Freshfields consultant on a full pension (unlike someone we could mention who also has a familiarity with London tribunals), that £59,000 amounts to around 7 per cent of O’Brien’s £880,000 annual salary – surely peanuts. And it’s probably a darn sight cheaper than the client account for entertaining Sir Philip Green.

But it’s Freshfields, not O’Brien, which will be paying. Such is his popularity they’d probably pay even if it took a whip-round of the firm’s 2,542 fee-earners.