Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Rule 4-29 Admission of Misconduct and Undertaking to the Discipline Committee

Amanda Jane Rose

New Westminster, BC

Called to the bar: May 4, 2011

Ceased membership: January 1, 2020

Undertaking and admission accepted: September 23, 2021

FACTS

The Law Society performed a compliance audit of Amanda Jane Rose’ s practice in January 2017 for the previous three years. During those three years, Rose operated three pooled trust accounts and was the sole signing officer on all three trust accounts. Shortly after the audit, Rose provided an undertaking that she would only operate her trust accounts under the supervision of a trust supervisor approved by the Law Society. The trust supervisor was to be a second signatory on her trust accounts. Almost a year later, she gave the same undertaking for the second time.

A few months after she gave the undertaking, Rose was retained by a client for a family law matter and received funds in trust. She opened a business investment account and deposited $816,908.94 in trust funds into the account. She later withdrew a total of $749,948.28 from the account on behalf of her client, leaving a balance of $67,718.25 that should have been held on her client’ s behalf. She later withdrew the funds from her account without her client’ s knowledge or consent. She did not disclose the account on her trust report and did not provide her trust supervisors with information related to the receipt and withdrawal of the funds.

The investigation also revealed the following misappropriations.

Over the course of almost two years, Rose made 17 withdrawals from her pooled trust accounts totalling $48,696.81. Twelve of the withdrawals were unrelated to client matters and five were to pay invoices that had already been paid. There were three online transfers totalling $2,250 from the trust account to her personal account, five online transfers totalling $30,100 to her general account when it was overdrawn, four withdrawals from trust by way of cheques totalling $10,212.76 to pay for her employee’ s wages and five withdrawals from trust totalling $6,134.11 to pay her fee invoices that had already been paid.

In another matter, a lawyer had transferred his practice to Rose’ s firm and brought a client’ s file with him. The legal fees rendered were to be split between the lawyer’ s former firm and Rose’ s firm. Rose’ s firm received a settlement cheque in trust for $78,104.51 and she deposited it into her general account. At the time, she needed additional funds to cover her operating expenses. She later received instructions from the lawyer to disburse the funds to the client, her own firm, the lawyer’ s former firm and a third party for a disbursement. Rose issued a cheque for $11,157.34 from her general account to the lawyer’ s former firm, which was subsequently returned for non-sufficient funds.

Rose received a $2,000 retainer and a $1,000 retainer from a client, and she deposited both retainers into her general account instead of her trust account and used the funds for her operating expenses. She later received five further retainers from the client totalling $7,900, which she properly deposited into her pooled trust account. She made a total of 11 withdrawals from her pooled trust account on the client’ s behalf when she did not hold sufficient funds to the credit of the client. This resulted in a series of trust shortages totalling $8,470.25, at a time when Rose knew she did not hold sufficient funds on the client’ s behalf.

Rose received a retainer of $2,500 from another client and deposited it into her general account instead of her trust account. She used the retainer funds for her operating expenses. She received three further retainers from the client totalling $7,792.36, which she properly deposited into her pooled trust account. She later made seven withdrawals that resulted in a series of trust shortages in the pooled trust account, totalling $9,313.12. Rose knew she did not hold sufficient funds on behalf of the client when she made the withdrawals.

Rose gave an undertaking to the Law Society not to operate a trust account without a second signatory and to provide her trust supervisor with information and documentation related to any trust transaction. She opened and operated an undisclosed account without her trust supervisor’ s knowledge or consent, and later made deposits and withdrawals from the account without a trust supervisor in place.

Approximately one year later, she provided another undertaking to replace the previous one, which stated she would only operate her trust accounts with the trust supervisor and would not make or authorize a withdrawal or transfer from a trust account unless the trust supervisor was a second signatory and had approved the transaction. She breached the undertaking again and made deposits and withdrawals from an undisclosed account without the knowledge of the supervising lawyer.

Rose gave an undertaking to the Law Society in 2019 to not engage in the practice of law and to change her status to non-practising. She continued to hold herself out as a practising lawyer for nearly six months.

Rose also made misrepresentations in two trust reconciliations, one trust report and other correspondence to the Law Society. She falsely told the Law Society she had corrected trust shortages and that the shortages had been reimbursed, and forged her accountant and assistant’ s signatures on a reconciliation emailed to the Law Society. She also did not list an undisclosed account she opened and operated in her trust report and confirmed in an email and a letter to the Law Society that she had no other trust accounts, when it was not true.

ADMISSION AND UNDERTAKING

Rose admitted her conduct constituted professional misconduct and provided an undertaking to the Discipline Committee that, for a period of 15 years, she will:

  1. not engage in the practice of law in British Columbia;
  2. not apply for re-admission to the Law Society or elsewhere in Canada;
  3. not apply for membership in any other law society (or like governing body regulating the practice of law) without first advising in writing the Law Society; and
  4. not permit her name to appear on the letterhead of, or otherwise work in any capacity whatsoever for, any lawyer or law firm in British Columbia without obtaining the prior written consent of the Discipline Committee.

In deciding to accept the proposal, the Discipline Committee considered a notice to admit and a letter to the Chair of the Discipline Committee in which Rose admitted her misconduct. The committee also considered her professional conduct record, which included three administrative suspensions, three undertakings to the Law Society, and two sets of recommendations made by the Practice Standards Committee.

Rule 4-29 Admission and Undertaking to the Discipline Committee