uLawPractice Blog

“Willfully blind” Barrie lawyer busted by LSO

Posted by uLaw Editorial Team on Mar 5, 2018 2:12:35 PM

 

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 After misappropriating more than $300,000 of her clients’ money, a Barrie lawyer is surrendering her license to practice law.

Rossanne Eunice Adams, licensed in 1996, misled the law society and remained “willfully blind” of her firm’s financial mismanagement, according to a recent Tribunal decision.

“Even after she had actual knowledge that the improper transfers were creating a trust shortage, she continued to make the improper transfers. Indeed, she continued to make those improper transfers after she deposited $200,000 into trust in November 2012. This represents a high level of culpability.”

In 2011 Adams--a sole practitioner--is said by the Law Society to have “borrowed” large sums of her client’s money to keep her business afloat. While perhaps not materially benefiting from these dubious transactions, the Law Society made it clear she was nevertheless in violation of a number of regulations.

Adams obfuscated her firm’s financial mismanagement by incorrectly claiming to have reconciled her trust accounts (trust reconciliation) and trust liabilities during Lawyer Annual Reports.

She also claimed her books and records were in compliance with By-Law 9, which they were not.

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Evidence of misappropriation was stark enough to warrant a heavy-handed punitive decision rendered by the Tribunal in February despite having paid full restitution.

In determining what to do with Adams, the Law Society invoked a relevant excerpt from a Tribunal decision in the 90s dealing with a similar situation: “…the essential issue … is the need to maintain among members of the public a well-founded confidence that any solicitor whom they instruct will be a person of unquestionable integrity, probity and trustworthiness.”

 

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