Naming & shaming a crooked lawyer is one of the best ways to warn consumers of the perils of using lawyers who fail to disclose their history to clients. IN response to last year’s court sponsored takedowns of websites such as Solicitors from Hell & others across the UK & Ireland where clients of “crooked lawyers” had used the online ratings sites to publish and even debate their usually bad experiences with their solicitors, it is very clear that in 2012, consumers who are ripped off by their legal representatives or those who know of a story involving a crooked lawyer ripping off members of the public should follow the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) naming & shaming policy, by using this year to OUT those lawyers who fail their clients, whether by negligence, corruption or multiple mistakes in an effort to ensure all consumers are protected from the rogue elements of the legal profession, whether in Scotland, England Wales, or Ireland.
Naming & shaming is terribly easy to do. Make the choice to protect yourself & others, by doing it.
If you have experience of a crooked lawyer, or if you know of anyone who has experience of a crooked lawyer, wherever you are, you can help protect yourself, or help others by ensuring the details of the story are fully published in the media while also making a complaint to bodies such as the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) and the Law Society of Scotland.
Law complaints regulators like the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & Law Society of Scotland turn out to be client-haters rather than consumer protectors. Consumers, clients & readers may get a lot further in their complaints and get a lot more satisfaction from a media investigation of their crooked lawyers long before the Law Society or blundering SLCC get round to putting pen to paper (usually more so in an effort to protect the lawyer before protecting the client). Put simply, its more difficult for so-called regulators like the Law Society of Scotland or SLCC to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if they have already been in the newspapers a few times. Its also more difficult to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if, as usually turns out to be the case, the media reveal they have been ripping off many of their clients, not just you, or someone you know.
If you have a story about a crooked lawyer, contact Diary of Injustice via firstname.lastname@example.org with full details of what happened, how you were treated and what you have done about it so far.
Publishing your experiences at the hands of crooks in the legal world will protect you, and protect others, and will also help shame some of those 70K a year plus expenses politicians in the Scottish Parliament who continue to allow lawyers to regulate themselves and cover up for their colleagues, either at the point of complaint or in the courts. Its time you, the public are heard. Its time consumers and clients who fund the legal profession come first and make sure YOU, the fee paying client have the final say in what happens to YOUR crooked lawyer.
As the Sunday Mail reveals, clients & consumers are usually not aware their own crooked lawyer is ripping off a host of others, and getting away with it, until the media comes along and reports it to the wider world :
EXCLUSIVE Brief who's making a career out of failure
By Russell Findlay April 23 2006 Sunday Mail
THIS is the high-flying solicitor at the centre of a remarkable 12 negligence claims.
John O'Donnell, 54, makes a comfortable living from conducting complicated property transactions.
But we can reveal insurers Royal & Sun Alliance have already been forced to pay out £350,000 on seven negligence claims against him. And at least five more worth £200,000 are still being contested. His firm, John G O'Donnell & Co, is based in Cathcart, Glasgow. The Law Society for Scotland, who govern the conduct of lawyers, keep his record of complaints a secret.
O'Donnell has also been accused of misconduct but the Law Society, â„¢ has not brought any cases to the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal. The claims centre on complicated transactions involving property and mortgages. 9 One case settled with an £81,000 payout involved Glasgow boxing promoter Alex Morrison, 67, for whom O'Donnell acted in the 2002 sale of his Sydney Street gym to Scottish Enterprise for £130,000. The sale money should have gone to Morrison's offshore firm, Decafarm Ltd, but was instead issued to O'Donnell's.
Decafarm complained to Strathclyde Police fraud squad but the procurator fiscal decided not to prosecute. 9 In other cases, his clients took out two mortgages on property and sold the property, paying off one mortgage. The others lender then had to pursue the solicitor for negligence to get their money back - and his insurance paid out.
Last night, ex-SNP leader and legal reform campaigner John Swinney said: "This appears a clear example of why a robust and independent complaints handling system is required. I hope forthcoming legislation to be considered by Parliament will address these issues."
Peter Cherbi, of Injustice Scotland, said: "If you buy a tin of beans, you can see the ingredients on the label. If you're paying a solicitor, you should be aware of what he or she has been up to. I'm also asking Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to revoke the exemption of the Law Society of Scotland from the Freedom of Information Act."
Last month, it emerged that complaints against lawyers had risen 30 per cent in a year to almost 5000. But a Law Society of Scotland spokesman said: "The consumer protections for clients of Scottish solicitors are second to none."
Last night, a legal firm issued a statement on his behalf. It read: During 2000-2002, John O'Donnell received treatment for a mental illness. He was diagnosed with clinical depression. During those dark days, Mr O'Donnell accepts his own high standards slipped. Indeed, when making a determination, the Law Society of Scotland makes reference to his illness, citing this as 'extenuating circumstances'. "In 2003, Mr O'Donnell started a new legal practice and has many loyal and satisfied clients."
Two years ago, the Sunday Mail revealed that O'Donnell's office was searched by police as part of a money-laundering probe into McGovern crime family lieutenant, Russell Stirton, 46.
Remember Remember – Where there’s a will there’s a crook. Suspension from legal practice is, however, no deterrence for crooks to come back and rip off people and their wills, as a recent Sunday Mail article exposed the case of the former jailed lawyer Valerie Macadam, now Valerie Penny returned from legal oblivion & started her own will writing business without telling her new clients she was jailed for embezzlement. Quoting from the Sunday Mail article : “A CROOKED lawyer jailed for stealing money from dead clients is back in business, we can reveal. Valerie Penny, 54, runs a slick website to lure customers into handing over £80 for wills. She is selling the same legal services she used to steal £130,000 from clients and their estates - a catalogue of dishonesty that landed her in prison. The struck-off solicitor, who was called Macadam before her marriage, boasts of her "successful career". But she makes no mention of her jail time for robbing clients' cash or her shocking record of professional misconduct.”
Misplaced trust with complaints : Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation for over 20 years yet Scotland has more crooked lawyers than ever. Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s director of standards, previously director of regulation and before that head of the Law Society’s horrifically named “Client Relations Office” has been in charge of regulating crooked lawyers in Scotland for over TWENTY YEARS yet from Penman to the present and beyond, most crooked Scottish lawyers have either received a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all while the client ends up financially ruined and excluded from the courts to make sure justice can never be done. Would you trust anyone like this with your complaint ? Make sure you use the media first before trusting the Law Society or SLCC with your lawyer problems.