|For immediate release||October 23, 2013|
Surrey lawyer ordered suspended for one month following review of disciplinary sanction [updated November 4, 2013]
Vancouver – The Benchers (governors) of the Law Society have ordered lawyer Aaron Murray Lessing to be suspended from practice for one month.
Lessing was cited by the Law Society twice in 2011. The first citation, issued March 23, alleged Lessing had committed professional misconduct by failing to report to the Law Society a series of outstanding debts, totalling more than $187,000, that he was required to report under Law Society rules.
The second citation, issued July 28, alleged conduct unbecoming a lawyer. It related to the fact Lessing breached three court orders while representing himself during a matrimonial dispute. Lessing was found in contempt of court, although that finding was later purged when he complied with the orders.
Lessing was found to have committed professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming a lawyer. On October 1, 2012 a hearing panel ordered Lessing to pay costs and a fine, totalling $22,000. The decision is available here.
The Law Society requested a review of that decision, arguing that a suspension was more appropriate. After considering several factors including Lessing’s previous conduct record and his mental health, the Benchers substituted the fines for a one-month suspension and ordered him not to self-represent in any court or tribunal without prior consent of the Law Society. The decision, issued October 16, 2013 is available here.
In ordering the suspension, the panel wrote: “...it is the particular duty of the Law Society to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice by ensuring the independence, integrity, honour and competence of lawyers. A lawyer’s failure to abide by court orders and being found in contempt cuts very close to the bone and requires a strong response.”
Lessing’s suspension is scheduled to begin November 1, unless the parties agree to an alternate date [On October 25, 2013 the Law Society and Lessing agreed the one-month suspension will begin December 1, 2013].
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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