Home Featured ‘Frozen with fear’: B.C. lawyer found guilty of professional misconduct for sexually harassing client

‘Frozen with fear’: B.C. lawyer found guilty of professional misconduct for sexually harassing client

by HR Law Canada

The Law Society of British Columbia has found a lawyer guilty of professional misconduct for sexually harassing a client.

The tribunal determined that M.E.’s actions constituted a marked departure from the standards expected of a lawyer, resulting in adverse consequences for the complainant.

The case against M.E. was initiated by a citation issued on July 27, 2023, alleging that he had engaged in unwelcome comments, advances, and physical contact with his client, A.R., between January 2016 and November 2017. The complainant came forward after reading a news article about the lawyer’s inappropriate conduct towards another woman, which prompted her to file a complaint with the Law Society in December 2022.

During the hearing, the complainant testified about her traumatic experiences with M.E., detailing an incident on June 15, 2016, when he allegedly hugged her from behind, and another instance during an Oct. 20, 2016, court appearance where he touched her inappropriately.

“I was frozen with fear” and petrified, the complainant said, describing how she felt during the June 2016 office visit.

The tribunal found the complainant’s testimony credible, despite some memory issues related to the dates of events, and noted that her account of the October 2016 court appearance was corroborated by a friend, T.W. T.W. testified that she observed the lawyer touching the complainant inappropriately and smelled alcohol on him during the court appearance.

M.E., who represented himself during the proceedings, did not provide evidence to contradict the complainant’s allegations nor cross-examine her testimony. He did apologize to the complainant for making her feel uncomfortable, saying it was not his intent to do so.

The tribunal concluded that his actions were “sexual in nature, unwelcome, and resulted in adverse consequences to the complainant,” violating Rules 2.2-1 and 6.3-3 of the BC Code of Professional Conduct.

The panel emphasized that his conduct undermined the trust clients place in their lawyers and eroded public confidence in the legal profession.

No details of the penalty or sanction against him was released in this ruling.

For more information, see Eckardt (Re), 2024 LSBC 27 (CanLII).

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