Appellate, The Profession

Difficult for lawyers to come back from criminal convictions

By Kirsten McMahon, Associate Editor

A disbarred British Columbia lawyer who was denied a licence to practise in Ontario faced an uphill battle due to the close connection between his criminal convictions and his work as a lawyer, Toronto commercial litigator and appellate counsel Brian Radnoff tells Law Times.

Radnoff, a partner with Dickinson Wright who frequently acts for lawyers facing disciplinary and licensing proceedings, tells the legal publication, “When you’re charged criminally with an offence that involves dishonesty, particularly in the administration of justice, it’s a very difficult thing to come back from,” he says.

The B.C. lawyer’s licence to practise in B.C. was revoked following his 2010 convictions for public mischief and fabrication of evidence.

“Despite glowing references from colleagues, friends and members of the Somali community in Canada, the unanimous three-person panel found he had fallen short of demonstrating that he was currently of good character,” Law Times reports.

According to the ruling, the lawyer did not engage with Law Society of Ontario's investigators who questioned him about the events that led to his conviction, saying only that his trial record spoke for itself, that he accepted the court’s verdict and that he had learned his lesson.

The panel noted that while the lawyer has been “making efforts to demonstrate that he is a better person,” his conviction for serious crimes go to the "heart of the responsibilities of a lawyer."

In dismissing his application, the panel said it “does not preclude him from reapplying in the future,” the decision states.

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