A Queensland law student was found guilty of engaging in legal practice when he was not entitled on Friday, after a court heard he was allowed to stay in police interviews with clients and help a sex offender with a sensitive police report.
According to a report by the Courier Mail, Jacob Reichman, 24, denied the charge, saying he referred to himself as a “legal representative”. He also said he didn’t think it was his responsibility to correct the police officer who referred to him as a solicitor.
Lawyers for the Legal Services Commission told the court that Reichman should be handed a suspended jail term, as he had reoffended after being punished. The court heard that two of the 12 instances happened after he had already pleaded guilty to calling himself a solicitor when he was not qualified, back in 2014.
Last week, Reichman told the court that he was told by his boss, Gold Coast barrister Chris Rosser, to call himself a ‘legal representative’.
“I was told you’re not their family representative, you’re not their social representative, you’re not their cultural representative,” he said.
“I would say I am doing no more than reminding [the client] of his right to silence.”
Reichman graduated from his law degree at Bond University back in October 2013 but had not been admitted as a solicitor.
The Legal Services Commission tendered recordings showing Reichman in police interviews telling clients not to answer questions, and not correcting a police officer who referred to him as a solicitor.
The court also heard recordings of Reichman joking with police officers not to hurry because “we get paid by the hour”. But Reichman said he wasn’t referring to himself when he made the comment.
On Friday, Magistrate Noel Nunan said it was a case of “misrepresentation by silence” when Reichman didn’t correct a form stating he was a solicitor, before he signed it.
“(He) has a law degree ... I don’t accept that he didn’t read it before signing it,” he said.
“In doing these five particular things, I’m satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that most of them ... are usually done by a solicitor.
“And the defendant engaged in those activities in such a way to justify the reasonable inference that he was doing it as a solicitor.”
Nunan adjourned his sentencing to September 7.
In 2014, Reichman was fined $1000 and ordered to pay $1083.50 in costs to the Legal Services Commission, when he pleaded guilty to engaging in legal practice when he wasn’t entitled to, on six occasions.