Sunday, February 23, 2014

WTF is going on with the world's second oldest profession?

Good Day Readers:

Law Societies have been called "Flaw Societies" and "the world's most powerful trade union" - the former by a Bay Street lawyer, retired Law Faculty Dean and now author - the latter by a successful layperson British businessman who successfully fought London's Law Society but it took him several years.

LS "Benchers" (some might suggest repressed solicitors playing out judgeship fantasies) conduct hearings as semi-quasi legal proceedings. Problem is, after going through the legalese they sometime still get it wrong. Where else is the investigator a lawyer, the prosecutor a lawyer and the judge and jury lawyers? It's a system by lawyers, for lawyers and of lawyers.

In the case of Manitoba, and undoubtedly other jurisdictions, the governing legislation is The Legal Professional Act.

The Shut The You Know What Up Act

The LPA is a quaint 10-Part 110 Section 80 plus page document that only a lawyer could love and comprehend although an increasing number seem to be having trouble with the latter. The Winnipeg Free Press was prevented from identifying the attorney in question because:

No publication before conviction

79(1) A person who publishes or broadcasts the name of a member in connection with a complaint, investigation or charge before the member is found to be incompetent or guilty of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a lawyer or student is guilty of an offence and is liable, on summary conviction

(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for not more than six months, or both; and

(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $10,000

Are Section 79(1) Provisions An Anachronistic Dichatomy?

Anyone can visit the Law Society of Manitoba's webpage where they will find a listing of Pending Disciplinary Hearings. What's surprising is the sheer number - 7 between now and early May three of whom have Queen's Counsel (Q.C.) designations. Is that number unusually high? Are more lawyers misbehaving these days?

By way of comparison, quickly checked The Law Society of Upper Canada's website and found at least 18-disciplinary hearings either currently underway or about to start for the one month period February-March of this year. Wonder what the grand total would be if a picture were taken of all Law Societies in the 10 provinces and three Territories?

Law Societies have subpoena powers. Their hearings are normally open to the public although they can go in camera. CyberSmokeBlog does not know when hearings are restricted to the public but will endeavour to find out.
From the almost moribund Douglas Inquiry, it seems the Douglas-King-Chapman fiasco was Winnipeg's tightly-knit legal community's open dirty little secret but only became public knowledge after Complainant Alex Chapman came forward (CBC) and likely because he had "black print" - email and photographs. Wonder how many lawyers within Winnipeg's legal fraternity know the identity of the attorney mentioned in Free Press article?

If the accused is dissatisfied with the outcome they can appeal but it has to be to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. After that if still unhappy with the result, the case could end up in the province's Appeal Court.

Carolyn Kristin "Blanch" Dangerfield

Clare L. Pieuk
Law Society of Manitoba suspends long time Winnipeg lawyer

Suspensions rare without preliminary investigations 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A longtime lawyer was suspended form the Law Society of Manitoba last week for allegations of professional misconduct. (Shutterstock)

In a rare move, the Law Society of Manitoba has suspended one of their own long time lawyers without conducting a full investigation.

The Winnipeg lawyer was suspended in the interim last week after allegations surface of professional misconduct including misappropriating client trust funds.

According to the society they had no choice, but to suspend the lawyer.

"It's very unusual to suspend a lawyer for conduct on an interim basis. Suspensions are generally reserved for very serious matters where the Society is satisfied that public protection requires it," said Kristin Dangerfield, a senior lawyer for the Manitoba Law Society.

The lawyer, which CBC cannot name, is also facing previous unrelated charges such as allegations of a breach of integrity and failing to serve a client.

With files from Kiran Dhillon


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