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Former Victoria lawyer disbarred for misconduct, ordered to pay $49K in legal costs

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The Law Society of British Columbia has disbarred a former Victoria lawyer who misappropriated $100,000 from a client and made false and misleading claims to those he had represented, according to a decision by the society's disciplinary tribunal.

Lindsay Adam Christopher Ross was also found to have acted in a conflict of interest when he represented his wife, his cousin and her spouse in the purchase and sale of multiple properties, the law society said in a disciplinary notice published Friday.

The tribunal also found Ross invested a client's money in a project in which he and his wife had a personal stake, eventually distributing the proceeds from the sale entirely to his wife despite knowing the funds were not enough to pay the other parties involved their proper share, the notice said.

The tribunal found Ross's misconduct was "committed for his own personal financial benefit," saying the senior lawyer, who was highly experienced in complex commercial transactions, used his expertise to mislead his clients.

Lawyer must pay legal costs

"Misappropriation is the most serious misconduct that a lawyer can commit," the tribunal noted in its decision issued on March 19.

The three-member panel also took into consideration Ross's prior record of professional conduct, which "shows serious lapses of responsibility regarding trust accounting processes and lack of respect for lawyers and the court," the society added.

In addition to the disbarment, Ross was ordered to pay $49,075 in legal costs incurred during the hearing.

According to the tribunal's decision, Ross was admitted as a member of the law society in 1989, one year after he was called to the bar in Alberta. He retired as a lawyer in June 2020, was suspended from practice the following month and was no longer a law society member as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Despite his resignation, the law society tribunal says it has the authority and responsibility to investigate and pursue disciplinary action even against a lawyer who has ceased to be a member of the society.

"This is to assure the public and the profession that the consequences of misconduct cannot be avoided simply by resigning from the law society," the disciplinary panel wrote. "It also provides a record in the event that a member applies to renew their membership or to practise law in another jurisdiction."

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