Chief Justice wants answers before considering lawyer impersonator’s bid to become legal practitioner

Queensland’s Chief Justice has warned twice-convicted Gold Coast lawyer impersonator that “many questions’’ needed to be answered before a court could consider his contested application to be admitted to practice law.

Law clerk Jacob Lazar Reichman, 28, appeared in the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday (Tuesday 24 November) to contest objections to his admission as a certified legal practitioner by Queensland Law Society and several other legal practitioners.

In August 2014, Reichman, then a law student, pleaded guilty and was fined $1000 in the Magistrates Court for engaging in legal services and holding himself out as a qualified practitioner when he was not a certified Australian Legal Practitioner.

During his sentencing at the time, the Court was told Reichman appeared in court on six occasions acting as a qualified solicitor on behalf of people facing criminal charges before magistrates between January 30 and July 10, 2013. On two occasions, Reichman falsely informed magistrates he was a solicitor when his bona fides were called into question.

He was again convicted in 2016 and fined $1500 for presenting himself as a lawyer while attending a police station on 12 occasions and failing to correct officers who assumed he was a solicitor when providing legal advice to people being questioned.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine Holmes AC and Justices David Boddice and Frances Williams were yesterday scheduled to consider Reichman’s application to challenge Queensland Law Society’s objection to him being admitted as a solicitor.

QLS has opposed Reichman’s admission on the grounds he is not a fit and proper person to be admitted as a legal practitioner and because he has twice been convicted of offences under the state’s Supreme Court (Admission) Rules 2004.

During yesterday’s hearing, Chief Justice Holmes AC quizzed Reichman’s counsel, Saul Holt QC, about whether his client may have been in some way linked or played a role in a complaint currently under consideration by Queensland’s Legal Services Commission in relation to another practitioner.

Mr Holt confirmed there was an “unresolved’’ matter before the LSC, but indicated his client wished to proceed with his application for admission.

Chief Justice Holmes AC indicated there were “many questions’’ that needed to be answered before the court could properly consider Reichman’s admission, saying it was likely a number of parties would be required to appear for cross-examination.

She said it was likely the matter would be referred to Queensland’s Court of Appeal for hearing and was not likely to be heard before “March or April’’ next year (2021).

Justice Holmes said it was understood Reichman now contends that his previous behaviour was the result of being “led down the wrong path’’ professionally by a former practitioner and that he was now properly mentored and supervised.

In October, the president of Queensland’s “super tribunal’’ recommended Reichman’s former mentor and associate–colourful prominent Gold Coast barrister Christopher James Rosser–be struck-off after engaging in “disgraceful, dishonest and dishonourable’’ professional misconduct over a four-and-a-half-year period.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal President Justice Martin Daubney AM found that Mr Rosser had engaged in seven counts of professional misconduct and four of unsatisfactory professional conduct between July 2012 and December 2016.

Justice Daubney found Rosser was “not a fit and proper person to practise as a barrister” and recommended that he be removed from Queensland’s roll of legal practitioners.

Rosser was referred to QCAT for disciplinary action by the LSC–which alleged the barrister had used two legal advisory services as a front to tout for business, had let law clerk Jacob Reichman attend Court and police interviews on his behalf, and wrongly held funds in trust.

A date for Reichman’s contested admissions hearing has yet to be fixed.

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