“Having an outstanding criminal lawyer like Patrick join our team further enhances our group.”
LAWYER DISBARRED OVER PROPERTY DEALS
A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has disbarred a Scarborough, Ont., real estate lawyer for knowingly participating in fraud.
While the panel found Thelma Pushparanee Williams was careless in her work in relation to several transactions, in one case she was reckless when she knew the risk of fraud was real. “In one transaction, we found that the lawyer was aware of the risk of fraud and we found knowing participation in mortgage fraud on the basis of recklessness,” wrote panel chairman David Wright, adding the lawyer failed to advise her lender client of “an obviously sham credit.”
“She knew there were tenants in each of the units of the four-unit property, and commissioned and submitted to her lender client a statutory declaration that said the purchaser would live in the property and it would be used as a single-family dwelling,” wrote Wright in describing one of the problems cited in the case.
“She said she did so because she did not know whether the purchaser would live in the property after the sale. The lender sold this property several years later under power of sale for approximately $88,000 less than the value of the mortgage.”
The panel said it had no confidence in Williams’ ability to act cautiously when “unusual” matters arose in her practice. “When transactions did not have unusual features, the lawyer served her clients well,” wrote Wright in the Aug. 26 decision of the law society tribunal hearing panel. “However, the lawyer’s ethical failings showed when matters were unusual or she was under pressure. She failed to prepare as a professional for such circumstances by educating herself, or to give sufficient attention to the aspects of real estate transactions that may require the detailed attention, expertise, and judgment of a lawyer.”
The panel also ordered Williams to pay $5,000 in costs to the law society.POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll
Despite some controversy, the majority of respondents agree with Legal Aid Ontario’s move to expand duty counsel services. According to the poll, 63 per cent of respondents said they agree with the duty-counsel expansion as LAO needs to find a way to increase services and provide them more efficiently.
As Law Times
reported in recent weeks, LAO has been hiring a spate of new duty counsel with the prospect of some of them taking on an expanded role in the court system. It said it embarked on the new hiring following a financial analysis that found it’s cheaper in some areas to hire staff rather than pay private-bar lawyers on a per diem
basis to do duty-counsel work.
Some lawyers, however, have been critical. The Criminal Lawyers’ Association suggested LAO should also invest in private-bar services through legal aid certificates.