‘Locker room talk’ about member of judiciary leads to $7,500 fine for B.C. lawyer

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A family law attorney has been fined $7,500 by the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) for making discourteous and offensive statements about a member of the judiciary.

The lawyer, BRV, was cited for violating rules 2.1-2 and 7.2-4 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the “BC Code”). These rules require lawyers to maintain a courteous and respectful attitude toward the court and to refrain from abusive or offensive communication in their professional practice.

Statement of facts

The case originated when BRV was retained by a client, identified as TK, in a family law matter in March 2021. During a meeting in the summer of 2021, BRV relayed a rumor he had heard concerning the sexual activity of a judge, which took place when the judge was in university.

TK later reported the conversation to the LSBC, stating that BRV’s language was inappropriate and disrespectful, and made him uncomfortable.

In an agreed statement of facts, BRV admitted to the violations. He described the conversation as akin to “locker room talk,” and acknowledged that his comments were offensive and ill-advised. He also took full responsibility for his remarks.

Panel’s decision

The panel stated that BRV’s actions were a “marked departure” from what is expected of lawyers and met the standard for professional misconduct. It was also noted that his conduct fell markedly below the standards expected by the LSBC, being contrary to rules that require lawyers to maintain a respectful and courteous demeanor towards the judiciary and their clients.

BRV was fined $7,500 and ordered to pay costs of $1,000.

Context and Precedence

The LSBC panel referenced four critical factors in assessing disciplinary action: the nature, gravity and consequences of the conduct; the character and professional conduct record of the respondent; acknowledgement of the misconduct and remedial action; and public confidence in the legal profession and the disciplinary process.

BRV has two previous conduct reviews. In 1991, he was reviewed for rudeness and lack of professional courtesy. In 2021, he was reviewed for his handling of cash receipts in relation to his Annual Report.

For the full decision, see 2023 LSBC 35, Hearing File No.: HE20220031.

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