uLawPractice Blog

American lawyer "borrows" $120k, gets disbarred in Ontario

Posted by uLaw Editorial Team on Jan 18, 2018 1:28:03 PM

The money was supposed to be for a client’s “matrimonial matter”, but somehow more than $100,000 unlawfully ended up in the hands of a sticky-fingered practitioner from south of the border.

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Paul Nicholas Golian, a lawyer who originally got his start in law in Port Huron, Michigan, is disbarred in Ontario after it was discovered that he misappropriated $120,000 of his client’s money between 2011 and 2013. The money was left in trust, but Golian unlawfully “borrowed” the cash, according to a recently penned Tribunal decision.

In addition to taking away his license to practice law in Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario ordered him to pay back the money he took from his client, in addition to a $5,000 fine to be paid next year before interest accrues.

Golian didn't keep all of the money he took from his client.

(Unthinking and/or unscrupulous practitioners will on occasion take money from one client to patch up faulty trust accounting in another client’s legal matter)

According to tribunal documents released on Jan. 4, Golian took $21,535.93 of his client’s money and transferred the sum to the trust ledger of an unrelated client in 2013. One year later, when a court ordered him to disburse more than $100,000 of his client’s money, it was discovered that—no surprise—the money was no longer available.

Disbursements in practitioner’s trust accounts are monitored closely by law society auditors on a regular basis to prevent firms from making intentional or unintentional bookkeeping mistakes. Additionally, law societies across Canada are tasked to ensure ethical behaviour, honesty, and integrity of their members; so as not to bring the profession into ill-repute among the public, who already consistently rank lawyers among the least trusted professions.

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