Accepting trust funds from a client when you yourself do not actually own a trust account can be a highly problematic circumstance if you’re expecting to remain in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario.
Such was the case for Fatima Yasmin Van Maurik, a Keswick, Ont.-based paralegal who is suspended for two months following a Law Society investigation.
According to the Law Society Tribunal, Van Maurik was accepting money in advance for legal services that she wasn’t actually conducting.
When one of her clientsgrew skeptical about where the money was going, Van Maurik didn’t bother to deliver a statement of account. Her client was never shown how much money was charged as fees or disbursements.
Evidenced by her lack of sound bookkeeping procedures, Van Maurik’s practice as a paralegal was compromised. Responsible steps to legal accounting must be taken by all practitioners to remain in compliance and thankfully this has never been easier with the use of cloud based practice management and legal accounting software.
Despite numerous requests from her client to see such information, Van Maurik simply didn’t provide what was necessary. On August 7, 2015 the Law Society reached out to her to find out what was going on, but she also didn’t respond to requests to provide a statement of account.
In addition to losing her license for two months, Van Maurik is ordered to pay $700 to the Overcomers Christian Fellowship Church and she also owes the Law Society $6,000.