Will the Member Do it Again?

One of the most common arguments against revocation in serious cases of misconduct is that the member has learned his or her lesson and will not repeat the conduct. In Doolan v Law Society of Manitoba, 2016 MBCA 57, Manitoba’s highest court gave guidance as to when such an argument can be rejected even for first findings against members with a long and clean record and extensive good character references. Doolan had been found guilty of misappropriating about $10,000 of client money. The Court upheld that a misappropriation finding could be made even in cases where a deliberate attempt to steal the money was not proved. Unauthorized use of clients’ funds was sufficient.

On the issue of revocation, the Court noted that the fact the member tried to conceal the misappropriation was a significant aggravating factor that indicated the member might do it again. In addition, letters of reference could be discounted where the authors were not aware of the finding (or even the initial allegations) at the time they wrote the letters.

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