Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of the decision of the hearing panel on disciplinary action

Desmond Greg Friedland

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: December 12, 1997

Hearing date: August 18, 2021

Panel: Thomas L. Spraggs, chair, Linda Berg and John D. Waddell, QC

Decision issued: December 16, 2021 (2021 LSBC 53)

Counsel: Kathleen M. Bradley for the Law Society; Desmond Greg Friedland appearing on his own behalf


Background

The hearing panel found Friedland committed professional misconduct by failing to comply with requirements of the trust accounting rules on numerous occasions, including withdrawing client trust funds when he was not entitled to and maintaining his own funds in a pooled trust account. The panel also found he failed on 13 instances to identify and record the source of funds received into trust, identify and record the client on whose behalf trust funds were received, maintain a trust ledger to each client’s trust funds separately and listing the trust funds received, disbursed and the unexpended balance, and maintain a detailed monthly listing to support trust reconciliation.

Disciplinary action

While the panel found that the misappropriation happened because of unconventional trust accounting practices and did not find any dishonesty or intention to misappropriate, it also stated that misappropriation is a very serious matter and that Friedland’s failure to comply with trust accounting obligations occurred over the course of nine years. The panel found that his failure to comply with the rules after being cautioned to do so by the conduct review subcommittee to be an aggravating factor. The panel also considered mitigating circumstances, including his pro bono work and contributions to the community and his cooperation with the discipline process.

The panel ordered Friedland:

  • Be suspended for two months;
  • Pay costs of $9,809.84;
  • Comply with the following orders on trust accounting including:
    • Immediately cease operating his trust account or handling trust funds until he has satisfactorily completed the Law Society’s Trust Accounting Basics and Trust Accounting Regulatory Requirements courses;
    • Retain a chartered professional accountant to assist in his accounting records for three years
    • File an accountant’s report with his annual trust report for a period of three years and thereafter until relieved by the Trust Regulation Department.

2021 LSBC 53 Decision on Disciplinary Action