News Releases

For immediate release December 16, 2002

Law Society disciplines BC lawyer

VANCOUVER - Pursuant to its statutory duty to govern BC's legal profession in the public interest, the Law Society of BC has disbarred former Vancouver lawyer Martin K. Wirick for professional misconduct.

At a December 16 discipline hearing, Mr. Wirick acknowledged that he received funds on his undertaking to use the money to discharge encumbrances on title in a real estate transaction. He admitted that he breached his undertaking to pay out the encumbrances and that the breach of his undertaking was professional misconduct. Mr. Wirick also consented to the disbarment.

In oral reasons for the disbarment, the Chair of the three-member hearing panel, Law Society Bencher Ralston Alexander, QC, said Mr. Wirick's actions were "unprecedented" and had "resulted in hardship and harm to a large number of members of the public." He said Mr. Wirick's conduct was "inexcusable." Benchers Margaret Ostrowski, QC and David Zacks concurred in the ruling.

Mr. Wirick was called to the Bar in 1979. On May 23, 2002 he voluntarily resigned from the Law Society of BC and advised the Law Society of serious errors in his real estate practice including breaches of undertakings to payout funds. Mr. Wirick has not practised law since May 23, 2002. The Law Society is currently conducting a forensic audit of Mr. Wirick's former law practice and is taking steps to compensate, through the Law Society's Special Compensation Fund, anyone who may have lost money due to Mr. Wirick's actions.

"The primary goal of the Law Society's discipline process is to protect the public against dishonest lawyers. By disbarring Mr. Wirick, we have achieved that goal. The Law Society's next step is to begin compensating Mr. Wirick's victims. Our Special Compensation Fund Committee is now considering claims by the victims and we expect to begin making restitution soon," said James G. Matkin, Executive Director of the Law Society of BC.

The Law Society of BC was founded in 1869 and is the governing body of the legal profession in BC. It is an independent organization funded by dues paid by all BC lawyers. Under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society is responsible for the licensing, professional conduct and discipline of the more than 10,000 lawyers in BC.

For more information on the regulation and discipline of lawyers see The Legal Profession Act:
Section 3: Law Society duty to protect the public.
Part 4: Discipline

The Legal Profession Act is available on the Law Society of B.C. website.

Discipline hearings are generally open to the public; please check with the Law Society prior to the hearing if you wish to attend. A list of upcoming hearings is available on the Law Society's website.

Law Society of BC media contact:

Brad Daisley, Public Affairs Manager
Office: 604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in BC
Cellular: 604-836-3257