The Advisory: Volume 10, Issue 1, January 2012
Summary of Disciplinary Matters
In this Summary of Disciplinary Matters, the Law Society of Alberta seeks to educate and inform lawyers on its role as an independent regulator in the public interest.
The hearing reports issued may correspond to the hearings held during this period, but may reflect hearings held earlier. In this issue, one of the reports are summarized below. All hearing reports are available at www.lawsociety.ab.ca under Lawyer Regulation/Hearings & Outcomes/Hearing Reports.
Reprimand of A.
For failing ethical obligations, a Hearing Committee of the Law Society issued a reprimand to an Alberta lawyer who had no record with the Law Society but who admitted guilt on two citations, including breaching an undertaking.
The panel Chair pointed out in the reprimand that the Law Society of Alberta governs the profession in the public interest. “Self-regulation through an independent law society is a privilege which our profession enjoys,” observed the Chair. “That privilege is only preserved if lawyers firmly commit to and honour the ethical tenets of our profession.”
The Hearing Committee considered the mitigating factors which included A.’s otherwise exemplary conduct, her cooperative nature during the hearing process, her clear admission of fault and identifying her mistakes, and having expressed an appreciation of the risks resulting from her failures. The Committee also noted that there was no actual resulting prejudice from her failure, and she had expressed remorse.
The Law Society seeks to take a purposeful approach to sanctioning, particularly to protect the public and maintain the reputation of the profession. The Committee observed that the sanction for A. should discourage future behavior which will have the effect of protecting the public from similar conduct. The Committee noted the low risk of recurrence by the lawyer.
The Chair noted that the lawyer “failed to honor an undertaking and then failed to disclose this fact in a timely manner to the lawyer you had given the undertaking to.”
“Lawyers in Alberta have come to rely on the word of another lawyer. An undertaking of a lawyer allows commerce to proceed efficiently. Without the ability to rely on a lawyer’s undertaking, the wheels of commerce would be much less efficient. The public interest we serve demands more of you. Your standard of conduct fell short in this case and you invited public derision of you and your profession. That loss of confidence is not easily regained, and your professional obligations are paramount.”
“Today you have the opportunity to move forward with your career,” the Chair stressed.” You have the opportunity to proceed with greater care and to demonstrate that you can emulate the best traditions of our profession.”
The Hearing Committee ordered A. to pay costs within 30 days.
The Hearing Committee was composed of Scott Watson, QC, Chair and Bencher; Donald Scott, Bencher; and Wayne Jacques, Public Representative.
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