Second chance for 'guilty' lawyer

A former Wilde Sapte partner escaped being struck off last week despite being found guilty of acting dishonestly by the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal.

Stephen Brower, who now works for London firm Edwin Coe, had transferred £5,000 from a client account at Wilde Sapte to the account holding the estate of his late father.

But Brower cancelled the cheque the next day, when he suddenly realised that bereavement for his father was behind his irrational behaviour.

Geoffrey Williams, for the Law Society, told the tribunal that Brower had admitted to “taking active steps to use client funds for the purposes of himself and or a relative” when he made out a cheque for £4,697 to his step-mother.

Williams said that Brower left Wilde Sapte last year, after four years as an equity partner, following a confrontation meeting.

Peter Ralls QC, for Brower, said it was an isolated incident. He said Brower cancelled the cheque when he thought “Oh God, what am I doing,” and in an action that spoke “louder than words” decided he could not become a thief.

Ralls said his client was prepared to be judged by his peers and made no secret of his regrettable conduct. “He did not cope with this particular bereavement as well as he should have done,” he said.

Fining Brower £5,000 and ordering him to pay £2,115 costs, tribunal chairman Denys Fordman said the tribunal was “impressed” with references from Edwin Coe's senior partner John Tomlins and had decided to “take a lenient view”.