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A prominent British Columbia lawyer, who is also a longtime school trustee, was disfellowshipped after found guilty of professional misconduct.
February 11, 2021 • • 29 minutes ago • • Read for 2 minutes Fotolia
A prominent British Columbia attorney who served as a school trustee in Kimberley for the past 35 years has been expelled.
In March 2020, the Law Society of BC, which regulates the legal profession in the province, found that 70-year-old Sandra Smaill had committed eight cases of professional misconduct.
The misconduct included Smaill, who was named Queen’s Counsel in 1998, misused thousands of dollars in trust funds from clients, and failed to keep accounting records under Law Society rules.
It also collected GST from its clients but did not submit the nearly $ 47,000 total of GST funds to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and did not submit any payroll source deductions to the CRA, resulting in a debt to the CRA of $ 44,509 led.
The panel found that Smaill persistently and repeatedly failed to cooperate with the investigation into her legal practice, which was suspended in 2018.
Smaill, who did not attend the hearing to investigate the allegations, attended the disciplinary hearing. She defended herself, arguing that bailing out was too draconian a punishment and that she should instead be subject to an order not requesting to become a practicing lawyer again.
Smaill realized that some of the allegations may have been professional misconduct, but said that all of her suffering was due to poor bookkeeping and that she never stole any money.
However, the panel found that misappropriating a customer’s money was the simplest form of betrayal of the customer’s trust and the public could rightly expect that the severity of the consequences reflected the severity of the injustice.
“In fact, the profession has to tell its members, ‘Don’t even think about it. ‘And that requires the imposition of severe sanctions for clear, knowing violations of ethical standards,’ the panel said.
Smaill said in an interview that she didn’t like the decision and didn’t think she had been treated fairly.
“I actually thought they’d be more personable than her, but it looks like they decided to set an example for me. I didn’t follow their rules, so I’m here. “
She didn’t think it was possible to appeal and added that she “is done with it. They expelled me, but I haven’t been a member of the Law Society for several years. I wouldn’t pay more money just to keep fighting them. “
As for her work as a trustee, Smaill believes she can remain on the board despite the lockdown.