Taming the legal Wolf pack

The Wolf of Wall Street movie could be a cautionary tale for some City lawyers

The corporate world’s excess is laid bare in blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street. While the film follows the rise of Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort it is not a million miles away from some issues in today’s legal market – the exposure of excessive spending and corporate crime is on the up.

Tales of partners on the take started to tumble out a few years ago, when former Hogan Lovells litigator Christopher Grierson pleaded guilty to frauds totalling £1.27m. There were also investigations into former Ince & Co partner Andrew Iyer, accused of stealing more than £3m from his firm and clients, former Kennedys partner Peter Lloyd-Cooper, dismissed over missing client funds, and former Addleshaw Goddard partner Mark Gilbert, who left in 2011 over alleged discrepancies in his expenses.

The debate is on as to why scandals appear to be on the up. 

“Is it just greed?” one reader asked on TheLawyer.com last week, after Gilbert’s counsel proposed a £20,000 fine for his client during a hearing at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Gilbert will now have to wait until the summer, after the hearing decided a new panel should hear the case.

The tribunal was asked to drop claims of lack of integrity lodged by the SRA, but concluded that the evidence submitted – including that he worked 16 hours a day, six days a week – was irrelevant. 

“Solicitors in the City work much longer hours than those who don’t,” closed panel chair Mr A Ghosh. 

Hopefully, as with the Belfort tale, lessons will be learnt.