Saturday, June 18, 2016

Appeal Court Upholds Bar Boot For Lawyer Who Misappropriated $9,100 From 86 Clients; Relatively Minuscule Thefts No Bar To Disbarment

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Winnipeg  Free Press reports:
  • A disbarred Winnipeg lawyer has lost his legal battle to overturn the career-ending judgment.

    Robert Doolan, a real estate lawyer who was called to the bar in 1977, was previously found guilty of misappropriating $9,096.44 worth of funds from 86 clients, then trying to mislead the Law Society investigation by falsifying bank records.(1)

    The allegations first surfaced in 2010 following an audit and triggered a lengthy process, including a trial where Doolan admitted wrongdoing but denied any malicious intent. He said the small amounts he took out of refund cheques for registrations at the Winnipeg Land Titles Office was not used "for his own benefit" but rather to pay himself on behalf of other clients who owed him money.

    "He said he treated the refund cheques as float money," Appeal Court Justice Barbara Hamilton wrote in a decision released this week. Doolan told the governing legal body he didn't need the money but tried to conceal what he did "out of fear and panic."

    The Law Society panel ultimately took the most extreme sanction available against Doolan in 2014, saying his actions showed a "well thought out and premeditated and deliberate attempt" to mislead them. They also cited concerning statements from Doolan in which he couldn't guarantee he wouldn't do the same thing again if he found himself in similar circumstances.

    "The panel was of the view that (Doolan) continued to display a lack of understanding and/or appreciation of the seriousness of his actions," Hamilton wrote.

    The Law Society added that anything short of disbarment "would not be sufficient to reflect the seriousness of the offences in this case, and to deter other members from similar actions, and to preserve public confidence in the legal profession and its ability and willingness to govern itself."
For more, see Appeal court upholds lawyer's disbarment.

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(1) The Law Society of Manitoba Reimbursement Claims Fund is a fund maintained to repay people whose trust monies have been misappropriated by their lawyer. All members of the legal profession in Manitoba contribute to this fund. Contact the Law Society for further information on how to make a claim under this fund.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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