Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Facts and Determination


Michael Murph Ranspot

West Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: August 1, 1985

Discipline hearing: December 19, 2018

Panel: Michelle D. Stanford, QC (chair); Thelma Siglos; Sandra Weafer

Decision issued: May 21, 2019 (2019 LSBC 17)

Counsel: Kathleen Bradley for the Law Society; no one appearing on behalf of Michael Murph Ranspot

FACTS

In December 2015 Michael Murph Ranspot assaulted a client. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of assault causing bodily harm and in March 2017 received a 16-month conditional discharge. He was in a personal romantic relationship with the client while representing her, and he loaned the client money without ensuring she had independent legal advice.

DETERMINATION

The Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia specifies that public confidence in the legal profession may be eroded by a lawyer’s irresponsible conduct conduct in either private life or professional practice. Case precedent in Law Society discipline decisions has established that criminal conduct is an obvious example of conduct unbecoming.

The BC Code stipulates that a lawyer must not enter into a transaction with a client, including lending the client money, unless the client has independent legal representation with respect to the transaction, that no conflict between the lawyer’s own interest and the lawyer’s duty to the client can be permitted, and that a lawyer must not act or continue to act for a client where there is such a conflict of interest.

Case precedent in Law Society discipline decisions has established that the test for professional misconduct is whether the facts disclose a marked departure from that conduct the Law Society expects of its members.

The hearing panel found that Ranspot assaulted the client, which constitutes conduct unbecoming a lawyer, and that he acted in a conflict of interest, which constitutes professional misconduct.

2019 LSBC 17 Decision on Facts and Determination