The Law Society spends more time disciplining its members than focusing on access to justice

Update:

According to lawyer Paul Robson: “The Law Society shouldn’t be disciplining its own members,” Robson told the Star, adding he intends to appeal to the Divisional Court. “They have to have a separate body completely independent of the Law Society. The Law Society should be spending money making sure access to justice is provided for.”
According to lawyer Paul Robson: “The Law Society shouldn’t be disciplining its own members,” Robson told the Star, adding he intends to appeal to the Divisional Court. “They have to have a separate body completely independent of the Law Society. The Law Society should be spending money making sure access to justice is provided for.”

After winning disbarment fight, man takes aim at Law Society with curses and a cat playing dead.

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He may have sworn at them, referred to their organization as feces and sent them a video of a cat playing dead, but lawyer Paul Robson says he was trying to make a point: that the Law Society of Upper Canada spends more time disciplining its members than focusing on access to justice.

The language in question was used by the Toronto attorney in messages he sent to the Law Society’s appeal division earlier this year, which was deciding whether to grant Robson his costs after he successfully appealed an earlier decision to revoke his licence.

The five-member panel ruled late last month that neither Robson nor the Law Society should be awarded costs — Robson had asked for $750,000 — and the lawyer gets to keep his licence.

“The Law Society shouldn’t be disciplining its own members,” Robson told the Star, adding he intends to appeal to the Divisional Court. “They have to have a separate body completely independent of the Law Society. The Law Society should be spending money making sure access to justice is provided for.”

A lower panel ordered last year that Robson be disbarred, after it found he concealed assets to the tune of about $1.4 million from creditors before his bankruptcy discharge, but the appeal division overturned that ruling earlier this year.
A lower panel ordered last year that Robson be disbarred, after it found he concealed assets to the tune of about $1.4 million from creditors before his bankruptcy discharge, but the appeal division overturned that ruling earlier this year.

The Law Society had argued Robson had not met the preconditions for costs, and in any case, should be disqualified from receiving any money because of his “inappropriate” communications.

A lower panel ordered last year that Robson be disbarred, after it found he concealed assets to the tune of about $1.4 million from creditors before his bankruptcy discharge, but the appeal division overturned that ruling earlier this year.

Robson is still facing a disciplinary hearing for what the Law Society describes in a notice of application as “abusive” and “offensive” communications to two lawyers, which Robson says is “nonsense.”

He may have sworn at them, referred to their organization as feces and sent them a video of a cat playing dead, but lawyer Paul Robson says he was trying to make a point: that the Law Society of Upper Canada spends more time disciplining its members than focusing on access to justice.

The language in question was used by the Toronto attorney in messages he sent to the Law Society’s appeal division earlier this year, which was deciding whether to grant Robson his costs after he successfully appealed an earlier decision to revoke his licence.

The five-member panel ruled late last month that neither Robson nor the Law Society should be awarded costs — Robson had asked for $750,000 — and the lawyer gets to keep his licence.
The five-member panel ruled late last month that neither Robson nor the Law Society should be awarded costs — Robson had asked for $750,000 — and the lawyer gets to keep his licence.

The five-member panel ruled late last month that neither Robson nor the Law Society should be awarded costs — Robson had asked for $750,000 — and the lawyer gets to keep his licence.

“The Law Society shouldn’t be disciplining its own members,” Robson told the Star, adding he intends to appeal to the Divisional Court. “They have to have a separate body completely independent of the Law Society. The Law Society should be spending money making sure access to justice is provided for.”

The Law Society had argued Robson had not met the preconditions for costs, and in any case, should be disqualified from receiving any money because of his “inappropriate” communications.

A lower panel ordered last year that Robson be disbarred, after it found he concealed assets to the tune of about $1.4 million from creditors before his bankruptcy discharge, but the appeal division overturned that ruling earlier this year.

Robson is still facing a disciplinary hearing for what the Law Society describes in a notice of application as “abusive” and “offensive” communications to two lawyers, which Robson says is “nonsense.”

He may have sworn at them, referred to their organization as feces and sent them a video of a cat playing dead, but lawyer Paul Robson says he was trying to make a point: that the Law Society of Upper Canada spends more time disciplining its members than focusing on access to justice.

The language in question was used by the Toronto attorney in messages he sent to the Law Society’s appeal division earlier this year, which was deciding whether to grant Robson his costs after he successfully appealed an earlier decision to revoke his licence.

The five-member panel ruled late last month that neither Robson nor the Law Society should be awarded costs — Robson had asked for $750,000 — and the lawyer gets to keep his licence.

“The Law Society shouldn’t be disciplining its own members,” Robson told the Star, adding he intends to appeal to the Divisional Court. “They have to have a separate body completely independent of the Law Society. The Law Society should be spending money making sure access to justice is provided for.”

The Law Society of Upper Canada
The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society had argued Robson had not met the preconditions for costs, and in any case, should be disqualified from receiving any money because of his “inappropriate” communications.

A lower panel ordered last year that Robson be disbarred, after it found he concealed assets to the tune of about $1.4 million from creditors before his bankruptcy discharge, but the appeal division overturned that ruling earlier this year.

Robson is still facing a disciplinary hearing for what the Law Society describes in a notice of application as “abusive” and “offensive” communications to two lawyers, which Robson says is “nonsense.”

He was recently in the news as the lawyer representing businessman Michael Elder, who unsuccessfully sought an injunction against Toronto Life to prevent the magazine from publishing a profile of him.

While lawyers interviewed by the Star generally agreed that the Law Society could spend more time on initiatives such as better access to justice, they were unanimous in saying that Robson took the wrong approach.

“I thought that his time as a lawyer was perhaps going to be rather limited,” said criminal defence lawyer John Struthers after reading what Robson sent to the Law Society. “If you’re trying to make a point, you can certainly do so without being rude or vile, frankly.”

“I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to use foul language in written submissions before an adjudicative body, whether it’s your own case or anybody else’s,” said criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown.

Robson’s correspondence to the appeal division dates back to January, when he was requesting access to documents from the Law Society for his submission on costs.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the Canadian province of Ontario. Founded in 1797, the motto of the Society is "Let Right Prevail."
The Law Society of Upper Canada is responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the Canadian province of Ontario. Founded in 1797, the motto of the Society is “Let Right Prevail.”

In a series of messages, he used the term “f—ers,” sent the panel a video of a cat playing dead, saying it depicts what the Law Society does for access to justice, and threatened to involve the Premier and Attorney-General. He also wished them a Happy Valentine’s Day.

“The letter appears to refer to the appeal division as ‘f—ers,’ ” the appeal panel said of Robson’s first message.

In one message, Robson accused the society as being an “accessory to murder.” He told the Star he was referring to the death of Zahra Abdillie, a Toronto woman murdered last December along with her two young sons by her husband. The public health nurse had been fighting for custody of her children and wanted an emergency court order, but didn’t qualify for legal aid and couldn’t afford a lawyer.

“The Law Society should be operating low-cost legal clinics and assisting under privileged people in getting access to justice,” Robson told the Star.

Criminal Lawyers’ Association president Anthony Moustacalis said that the Law Society is viewed by some lawyers as a “prosecutorial monolith,” but said it has done work on access to justice.

“It started the Treasurer’s access to justice committee that, for the first time, got government, judiciary, legal aid and all members of the Bar together to try and solve these problems,” he said. “LSUC also has dedicated staff to coordinate and help promote its access to justice mandate.”

Despite Robson’s language, which the panel described as “deeply offensive and appalling,” they still granted him an extension on at least two occasions to file material, but he never did.

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One thoughtful comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Robson, when our law society should be focused on providing representation for those under privileged. As a victim of severe medical child abuse and classified human experimentation at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, I find it repugnant, that we have such breach of the criminal code upon defenseless children, and no lawyer, as to address this serious injustice.

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