Law Times

December 13, 2010

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STORE & SHRED Exceptional Quality at Reasonable Prices! COPY, SCAN, Call us today to fi nd out how much you can Save. TF: 1.888.781.9083 $4.00 • Vol. 21, No. 40 ocdavit_LT_June7_10.indd 1 6/4/10 9:22:44 AM Inside This Issue 3 Western Union 6 To Plead Or Not 9 Focus On Criminal Law Quote of the week "Canada was never irrelevant in the global legal marketplace. But until recently, it was never very important." — Jim Holloway, Baker & McKenzie LLP, See More, page 4 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene Billions of dollars invested, not a penny lost. ntitled-3 1 December 13, 2010 Staff ruined me: lawyer But law society warned about fraudulent deals in advance BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times his professional reputation by tricking him into a mortgage fraud scheme. Th e case comes after Charles Amissah- A Ocran received a warning from the Law Society of Upper Canada almost a year ago that the employee was a known fraudster. Amissah-Ocran wants $5 million in damag- es from Claire Graham, whom he employed as a conveyancer, and several of her associ- ates for "loss of income on account of fraud, conspiracy, and breach of fi duciary duty," according to a statement of claim fi led with the Ontario Superior Court in Brampton on Nov. 5. Th e law society suspended Amissah-Ocran on an interim basis on Dec. 2 after a string of complaints about suspect deals in recent months put the regulator's spotlight on his practice once again. Further proceedings will take place in the next two weeks to determine whether he should receive an interlocutory suspension until the parties can schedule a full hearing on his alleged misconduct. An investigator with the law society or- dered him to stop using Graham for real estate services as far back as January, but Amissah-Ocran kept her on in a litigation support role and put her sister and nephew in charge of the real estate side of his practice. He claims he complied with the law society request by entering into an understanding Brampton, Ont., lawyer is suing a former real estate employee in a case alleging she ruined his fi nances and 5/4/10 2:49:21 PM The Rozz Entertainment Complex in Brampton is at the heart of Charles Amissah-Ocran's lawsuit against his former employee. with Graham that she would stay away from his real estate practice but alleges she reneged on the deal. "With hindsight, I look so foolish," Amis- sah-Ocran tells Law Times. "My failure to cut all ties with Claire was the biggest mis- take of my life." A factum fi led by law society counsel Ta- nus Rutherford on Nov. 26 reveals the LSUC is investigating seven complaints concerning numerous properties. It has reviewed 14 sus- picious transactions so far and alleges Amis- sah-Ocran "misapplied $5 million or allowed Graham to do so." "It appears that, instead of paying out prior mortgages, the lawyer diverted funds to other uses," Rutherford wrote. Amissah-Ocran says his accountant is still working on reconciliations but he believes his trust account is short at least $900,000, a fi gure he fears may rise even further. In an affi davit to support his own claim, Amissah-Ocran accuses Graham of orches- trating "an elaborate scheme" in order to divert money to the company of a friend, Rosalyn Blake, the owner of the Rozz Entertainment Complex restaurant and See He, page 5 new blood, the Law Society of Upper Canada kicked off its bencher election tour last week at Osgoode Hall. Former treasurer Derry Millar Bencher campaign makes way for new blood W BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times ith the 2011 cam- paign promising to open the fi eld to hosted the fi rst bencher election information session for prospec- tive candidates on Dec. 6 along with his successor Laurie Pawl- itza and fellow Bencher Larry Banack. Next year's election will be the fi rst since the LSUC's gov- ernance reforms that limited benchers to a maximum of three four-year terms. "We expect more bencher turnover in this election and in the coming years," Pawlitza said. "Our next four years, we expect to be just as busy as the last four, which is why we're hosting these sessions." Lawyers will pick 40 bench- ers, with 20 from inside To- ronto and a further 20 from elsewhere. Th ere will be at least four vacancies in the Toronto area as benchers who have al- ready served more than 15 years make way for new blood. Th ey include Gary Gottlieb, Bob Aaron, Banack, and Millar. Outside Toronto, there are two open spots to replace Heather Ross and Gerald Swaye. Cur- rent benchers who have already served three terms can run again under grandfather clauses in the bylaws passed earlier this year. life. With committee days, Con- vocation, task forces, and disci- plinary matters, the time commit- ment builds up quickly. According to Banack, law society business has eaten up about one-quarter of his daylight billable hours since his election in 1995. Still, he has made up the time through evening and weekend work. "It's your family who pick up the slack when you don't make I don't really think the bencher election is high on their radar right now. Most are focused on the next hurdles in their careers: getting the fi rst job and building a practice. But I think you can appeal to them. Th e panel travelled to Sud- bury, Ont., on Dec. 8 and over the next couple of months will head to Kitchener, London, Bar- rie, Ottawa, Windsor, Oshawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Th under Bay ahead of the nomination deadline of Feb. 11. Polls will open shortly after that date and will close on April 29. In the meantime, Banack warned those considering a run that it can take its toll on home it home at a reasonable hour," he said. But there's an upside, Banack said. Th e hard work pays off in the results achieved and the ku- dos attached to the position. "I have no doubt that participat- ing here not only made me a better lawyer but I can also see that the clients and lawyers who dealt with me also perceived I was a better lawyer," he said. "And when you look back, you LT Digital version spring.indd 1 12/10/10 11:25:45 AM see the change that you have helped eff ect." Millar, who won't return to Convocation despite being en- titled to under grandfathered rules for former treasurers, said he saw a return on the invest- ment he put in with his long hours of work at the law society. "It's one of the best things I've done in my career. Th e issues that you get to deal with aff ect the profession; they aff ect para- legals; and they aff ect the inde- pendence of the bar. It's very important to the profession and it's very interesting work." Vivene Salmon, a 2010 call currently in sole practice in Toronto, is considering a run. Young lawyers aren't a well-rep- resented group at Convocation — Jennifer Halajian is the most junior lawyer with 11 years of experience — and Salmon be- lieves she has a chance if she can mobilize colleagues in her demographic. She plans to rely more on so- cial media than traditional forms of campaigning, a successful tac- tic in the political campaigns of U.S. President Barack Obama See New, page 5 Why pay more for your legal news? Click here Subscribe Today! LAW TIMES and Photo: Sandra Strangemore

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