Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Review Board

Glenn Arthur Laughlin

Port Coquitlam, BC

Called to the bar: May 17, 1996

Written submissions: April 9 and 28, June 3 and 5, 2020

Review board: Michelle D. Stanford, QC (Chair), Catherine Chow, Robert Smith, Sandra Weafer and Chelsea Wilson.

Decision issued: October 14, 2020 (2020 LSBC 47)

Counsel: Kathleen Bradley for the Law Society; Glenn Arthur Laughlin appearing on his own behalf

BACKGROUND

A hearing panel found Glenn Arthur Laughlin had committed professional misconduct by participating in conflicts of interest over the course of several years while acting as corporate counsel and as legal counsel in a divorce proceeding (2019 LSBC 42). The Law Society and Laughlin made a joint recommendation that the penalty be a fine of $12,000. The hearing panel departed from the joint recommendation and imposed a fine of $5,000. The Law Society applied for a review of the $5,000 fine.

DECISION OF THE REVIEW BOARD

The review board considered whether the hearing panel erred in: mischaracterizing the nature and gravity of the misconduct; considering intent as a highly mitigating factor; failing to apply progressive discipline; and departing from a joint submission.

The review board found the nature and gravity of Laughlin’ s misconduct was serious because there were multiple, overlapping and perpetuation conflicts of interests he should have been aware of as a senior lawyer. Further, the review board found that the hearing panel compared Laughlin’ s conduct to cases involving less serious misconduct and the cases were not sufficiently similar to this case.

The review board found the hearing panel was correct in considering Laughlin’ s good intentions but erred in placing too much weight on this factor. The board found that his altruistic intention to help his client is a mitigating factor, but not “ highly” mitigating as found by the hearing panel.

The review board also found the hearing panel incorrectly determined that the principle of progressive discipline did not apply because this was Laughlin’ s first citation. He had a relevant conduct review on the same problem of conflicts of interest, which the review board considered to be a highly aggravating factor.

The review board found the hearing panel in this case erred in departing from the joint submission of a $12,000 fine. It considered the proposed fine of $12,000 to be fair and reasonable given the circumstances.

The review board ordered the $5,000 fine be set aside and ordered Laughlin to pay:

  • a fine of $12,000; and
  • costs of the review of $500.

2020 LSBC 47 Decision of the Review Board