The temptation to embezzle client funds is never more than the click of mouse away, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, President of the High Court, told newly-minted solicitors at their parchment ceremony at Blackhall Place on 21 February.
“Gambling addiction is a real problem that I see on a regular basis,” he said.
He warned that it has never been easier to feed addictions such as gambling, drugs or alcohol by transferring funds online. “For a solicitor who has control of clients’ money, the temptation is ever-present,” he said
Trust is the cornerstone of the solicitor’s profession and that trust should never be besmirched, he warned.
He said that as President of the High Court, he not only has the duty of admitting solicitors to the roll but also at times, to suspend or strike them off.
This duty also extends to medical, nursing, veterinary, pharmacy, teaching, social workers, radiographers, he said.
“It is the most unpleasant task that I have to carry out on the bench,” he said. “Recently I had to strike off a pharmacist who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of his employer’s money.”
On a happier note, he said that being a solicitor is a great profession and never boring.
“If you have even a modicum of interest in human nature and solving problems, this is the profession for you,” he concluded.