Queensland solicitor Juliette Wright (also known as Juliette Mould) will be removed from the Roll of Legal Practitioners for dishonestly applying $75,600 to her own use.
Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon brought four charges against Ms Wright relating to a four-month period in 2017 when Ms Wright was acting as legal counsel for a national retail franchisor.
During the four-month period, Ms Wright issued a total of six invoices to franchisees in Queensland, Canberra and Western Australia, requesting payment for amounts ranging from $6100 to $33,000.
Ms Wright was also a legal practitioner director of a law firm at the time and issued five of the invoices using her law firm’s letterhead, and one on the franchisor’s letterhead.
Four of the six invoices issued were for expenses legitimately owed to the franchisor. However, the bank account for payment was controlled by Ms Wright, and the payments received were not passed on to the franchisor until her actions were discovered by the franchisor.
Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon said bringing disciplinary action for dishonest conduct reinforced the requirement for legal professionals to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards.
“Legal practitioners hold a privileged place of trust within our community and are afforded considerable public confidence,” Commissioner Mahon said.
“To unashamedly take advantage of that position tarnishes the entire legal profession and diminishes public confidence in the legal profession.Honesty must always be an essential personal trait and a requirement of all legal practitioners.”
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) held that the serious nature of Ms Wright’s repeated conduct amounted to professional misconduct.
QCAT noted that, although restitution had been made, it did not absolve the fact of the dishonest conduct and demonstrated Ms Wright’s lack of fitness as a legal practitioner.
QCAT found that Ms Wright was not a fit and proper person to practise law and recommended her name be removed from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Queensland, and ordered she pay the Commissioner’s costs.
Ms Wright did not appear at the hearing and filed a response admitting the charges.