Law Society Rule 2-69.1 provides for the publication of summaries of credentials hearing panel decisions on applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission and reinstatement.
For the full text of hearing panel decisions, visit the Hearing reports section of the Law Society website.
Wuqiang (Anthony) Zhou
Called to the bar: May 20, 1994
Ceased membership: December 31, 2008
Hearing (application for reinstatement): October 28, 2011
Panel: David Mossop, QC, Chair, Rita Andreone and Leon Getz, QC
Reports issued: November 3 (2011 LSBC 32) and November 4, 2011 (2011 LSBC 33)
Counsel: Henry C. Wood, QC for the Law Society and Maureen Baird for Wuqiang (Anthony) Zhou
In 2000, when Wuqiang (Anthony) Zhou set out as a sole practitioner, he had to learn basic law firm accounting and relied primarily on his wife for bookkeeping services. She had had little bookkeeper training, and performed these unpaid services in addition to having primary responsibility for managing the household and raising their two daughters.
Up until 2006, when the Law Society rules removed the annual trust account audit requirement, Zhou’s trust accounts were audited annually, and the auditors noted no exceptions after his first year of sole practice.
In June 2008, the Law Society conducted a compliance audit of Zhou’s practice and found an unacceptable level of compliance with the trust accounting rules.
Zhou admitted to several breaches of the accounting rules. He cooperated fully and immediately made changes, such as retaining a bookkeeper experienced in law firm accounting.
In December 2008, Zhou ceased to practise and the matter of his breaches of accounting rules were placed on his member file. He applied for reinstatement in April 2011.
In the panel’s view, no material issues concerning Zhou’s good character and repute and his fitness to be reinstated as a lawyer are raised by the trust accounting issues. While the compliance audit disclosed an overall unacceptable level of accounting rule compliance, Zhou took immediate steps to address the deficiencies in processes and systems. The panel was satisfied that Zhou now understands the importance of meticulous compliance with the accounting rules. In addition, the panel was impressed that he acknowledged that it was best that he practise at a firm that can handle all the administrative duties, rather than attempting to do so on his own as a sole practitioner.
Upon consideration of all of the evidence, the panel ordered that Zhou be reinstated on the condition that he:
1. practise only in the capacity of an employee at a firm and under the supervision of another lawyer;
2. not handle any trust transactions, trust money, or be responsible for documenting trust transactions;
3. not assume responsibility for any bookkeeping or the creation or maintaining of financial records normally handled by a law firm bookkeeper; and
4. report to the Law Society any change in his employment situation that goes to the nature of these conditions.
Zhou received considerable support from a former colleague who attested to his good character, moral integrity and keen awareness of and scrupulous adherence to the standards of professional conduct. This former colleague invited Zhou to join his firm as an associate to work under his supervision.