Call for 'task force' to aid stressed out solicitors

A solicitor, who admitted to a disciplinary tribunal last week that he failed to pay bills because he was “overwhelmed by his workload”, has called for a “task force” to help stressed out solicitors.

Anthony Thipthorpe, who was based in Southend-on-Sea, admitted that in 1996 he failed to pay #6,500 counsel's fees and ignored subsequent letters sent by the Office for Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) because he was “unable to cope”.

He said that although he worked for the two-partner firm seven days a week: “There [were not] enough hours in the day.”

An avalanche of complaints built up and he said “horrendous troubles at the bank meant I couldn't pay counsel or even the milkman”.

He suggested that a “task force” could help solicitors who were managing firms “get back on their feet” by providing “physical help” running the office for a month.

Thipthorpe was reprimanded by the disciplinary tribunal and ordered to pay #1,200 costs. But tribunal chairman John Clitheroe backed his call for a task force.

Around 18 months ago, counselling service SolCare was set up to help lawyers with addiction or stress problems and it has since handled over 120 cases. SolCare co-ordinator Barry Pritchard admitted: “A lot of people don't know we exist.”