Saturday, March 12, 2016

Canadian Law Society CEO: Compensation Available To Clients Victimized By Attorney Ripoffs, Negligence

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, CBC News reports:
  • David Michael Bradley, described as lacking integrity and unworthy of being a lawyer, has been disbarred following a hearing at the Law Society of Manitoba.

    He's also been ordered to pay $22,500 in costs toward the discipline process.

    The hearing was told Bradley lied to clients and misappropriated clients funds. In all, he faced 22 charges related to professional misconduct. He pleaded guilty and consented to the disbarment.

    Rocky Kravetsky, counsel for the law society, told the hearing disbarment is the only sanction that will protect the public and protect the reputation of the profession.
    Compensation available

    All lawyers in Manitoba are required to have professional liability insurance, said the law society's chief executive officer Kristin Dangerfield in a statement to CBC News.(1)

    "In the event any clients sustained a loss as a result of Mr. Bradley's negligence, compensation is available under the Lawyers Professional Liability Fund which protects clients from the errors or omissions of a lawyer," said Dangerfield.

    "With respect to losses caused by the theft of client funds, every lawyer in the province contributes annually to the Reimbursement Fund."(2)

    "It is unknown as of today whether any claims will be made against either of the funds by Mr. Bradley's former clients," she said.
For the story, see Winnipeg lawyer David Bradley disbarred (Misappropriation, lack of integrity cited by Law Society of Manitoba).

See, generally, Frederick Miller, "If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer .... ?", 138 Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Rev. 785 (1990) for more on the apparent, long-standing tolerance for deceit by many in the legal profession:
  • This tolerance to deception is encouraged by the profession's institutional civility. Seldom is a fig called a fig, or a shyster a shyster. No, our euphemisms are wonderfully polite: "frivolous conduct," or a "lack of candor;" or "law-office failure;" or, heaven forbid, a "peculation," a "defalcation," or a "negative balance" in a law firms's trust account.

    There is also widespread reluctance on the part of lawyers --- again, some lawyers --- to discuss publicly, much less acknowledge, that they have colleagues who engage in deceit and unprofessional conduct.

    This reluctance is magnified when the brand of deceit involves the theft of client money and property, notwithstanding that most lawyers would agree that stealing from clients is the ultimate ethical transgression.
(1) Unlike the lawyers in the United States, Canadian lawyers (or at least those licensed to practice in the Province of Manitoba) are apparently required to carry professional liability insurance.

(2) The Reimbursement Claims Fund is a fund maintained by The Law Society of Manitoba (equivalent to a state bar in the U.S.) to repay people whose trust monies have been misappropriated by their lawyer. All members of the legal profession in Manitoba contribute to this fund.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other Canadian provinces as well as those licensed throughout the United States, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

See generally:
  • N.Y. fund for cheated clients wants thieving lawyers disbarred, a July, 2015 Associated Press story on this Fund reporting that the Fund's executive director, among other things, is calling for prompt referral to the local district attorney when the disciplinary committee has uncontested evidence of theft by a lawyer injuring a client or an admission of culpability;

    When Lawyers Steal the Escrow, a June, 2005 New York Times story describing some cases of client reimbursements ("With real estate business surging and down-payment amounts rising with home prices, the temptation for a lawyer to filch money from a bulging escrow account and later repay it with other clients' money has never been greater, said lawyers who monitor the thefts."),

    Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a December, 1991 New York Times story that gives some-real life examples of how client security funds deal with claims and the pressures the administrators of those funds may feel when left insufficiently financed as a result of the misconduct of a handful of lawyer/scoundrels.

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