Sydney man pleads guilty to impersonating solicitor

Australian Lawyers Weekly

Following an investigation by the council of the NSW Law Society, Matthew Laba entered pleas of guilty in the Downing Centre Local Court to six offences relating to unqualified legal practice.

The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Laba represented four people, including a Bondi café owner, in separate criminal proceedings.

The offending occurred in courts in Liverpool, Sutherland and Sydney’s CBD. He did not seek leave to appear on any occasion.

Mr Laba does not hold and has never held a practising certificate.

In a statement, the NSW Law Society said Mr Laba is facing a maximum penalty of 250 penalty units, or $27,500, and two years’ imprisonment. The sentencing will be handed down at a later date.

“As a co-regulator of the state’s solicitor profession, the Law Society of NSW has a responsibility to help maintain public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession and protect the public and clients of law practices from unqualified people engaging in legal practice and purporting to be lawyers,” the statement read.

“People in need of legal advice and advocacy have a right to expect that the person they retained to provide these services is qualified.”

The council added lawyers are subject to “stringent ethical obligations”, including their duties to the administration of justice, the court, and to advancing their clients’ interests above their own.

“The Law Society of NSW will act wherever necessary in order to protect the public and clients of legal practice from conduct that undermines confidence in the law and legal process and falls below the high standards expected of the legal profession,” the council said.

Mr Laba is due to be sentenced in December.