A lawyer in Vancouver, Rene Joan Gantzert, has been found to have committed professional misconduct by the Law Society of British Columbia. She misappropriated $62,521 from a client’s trust fund between December 2018 and July 2019.
The money was from a personal injury claim settlement of $481,291, and while some parties were paid off, not all the money went to the intended recipients. Gantzert gave up her license to practice law in July 2020 and failed to cooperate with the Law Society’s investigation.
Her lack of cooperation between May and December 2021 was found to constitute professional misconduct. Misappropriation of trust funds is considered among the most serious forms of professional misconduct. The penalty Gantzert will receive is yet to be determined.
The CEO of ClearwayLaw, which is a lawyer rating website, said that this shows the importance of the public leaving reviews for lawyers.
“There are many good and bad lawyers out there. If the public doesn’t leave reviews for lawyers, how are people meant to know?” said Alistair Vigier of ClearwayLaw.
How to report a lawyer in BC
The Law Society of British Columbia is the regulatory body that oversees lawyers in the province. As per the Legal Profession Act, its primary responsibility is to safeguard the public interest.
The society ensures that lawyers have a valid license and insurance to practice law, possess the required level of competence to provide legal assistance and adhere to the professional conduct standards established by the society. Additionally, the Law Society responds to complaints filed against lawyers by the public.
However, it is important to note that the Law Society cannot address every type of complaint lodged against a lawyer. Generally, the society deals with grievances related to lawyers who have acted unprofessionally or failed to perform their job competently. It is not within the society’s power to alter court decisions or regulate lawyers’ actions on individual cases.
In the event that the Law Society discovers misconduct or inappropriate behaviour on the part of a lawyer, it may require them to take corrective measures, impose fines, or suspend their law practice. However, the Law Society cannot provide financial compensation to complainants or force lawyers to do so.