Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

Steven Neil Mansfield

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: May 14, 1993

Written materials: July 31, 2018

Hearing in writing ordered: August 8, 2018

Panel: Nancy Merrill, QC, (chair); William Sundhu; Robert Smith

Decision issued: October 5, 2018 (2018 LSBC 30)

Counsel: Kathleen M. Bradley for the Law Society; Steven Neil Mansfield on his own behalf

AGREED FACTS

On November 16, 2016, Steven Neil Mansfield received a $200,000 child-support payment from opposing counsel on behalf of a client, and placed those funds in his trust account. On the same day, Mansfield withdrew the money from the trust account and purchased a bank draft in the same amount, payable to a third party not related to the client.

In October 2016 Mansfield received a $5,000 retainer from another client, and intentionally misappropriated those funds by depositing the money into his general account rather than his trust account when he was not entitled to those funds. On November 23 that client provided Mansfield with $200,000, the result of a settlement in a family law matter. Mansfield paid the money into his trust account, and misappropriated almost all of that money by:

  • writing cheques for $20,000 and $7,500 from his trust account and depositing that money into his general account; and
  • writing a cheque for $170,000 from his trust account, payable to the other client, who was now demanding the money that Mansfield had paid to the third party.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

Mansfield conditionally admitted to the violations, agreed that they constitute professional misconduct, and consented to disbarment as the proposed appropriate disciplinary action.

In determining whether to accept the conditional admission and proposed disciplinary action, the panel considered Mansfield’ s explanation that his misappropriation of more than $400,000 from two clients resulted from a gambling addiction. The panel concluded that a gambling disorder is not a mitigating factor justifying his conduct.

The panel accepted his admission of professional misconduct and concluded that anything less than disbarment would be wholly inadequate for the protection of the public and would fail to address the need to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel ordered that Mansfield be disbarred.

2018 LSBC 30 Decision of the Hearing Panel