Law Times

January 23, 2017

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Jail for firm employee who faked being lawyer BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times A Richmond Hill, Ont. man has been sentenced to three years in jail on charges that included defrauding a lawyer for whom he worked. Inayat Kassam was found guilty of fraudulently taking $6,000 from lawyer Adam Seif and of defraud- ing potential clients of almost $40,000 at law firms at which he worked. Kassam had been working in Seif 's law firm when he held him- self out as a lawyer to potential clients, despite the fact he did not have a licence to provide legal ser- vices in Ontario. The sentencing judge, Ontario Superior Court Justice Cary Bo- swell, said Kassam was engaged in "a lengthy and somewhat sophisti- cated fraud." "He held himself out as a lawyer and not only deprived members of the public of sizable amounts of money, but also deprived them of competent legal counsel at a time when they were in need of it," Bo- swell said in the decision. "He ap- pears to have been motivated en- tirely by greed." Seif hired Kassam in 2012 to work in his firm as a legal assistant and office manager. Kassam was tasked with con- ducting intake interviews and completing retainer agreements, but he started presenting himself as a lawyer and taking on clients of his own. The court found Seif was not aware Kassam had done this, but it also found that he had not pro- vided "sufficient oversight or su- pervision." "Mr. Kassam essentially per- formed the role of a junior law- yer or paralegal, though it is not clear to me how much of this role Mr. Seif was aware of and/or con- doned," Boswell said. After having worked at the firm for about a year, Kassam wrote himself a cheque from Seif 's DUTY TO ACCOMMODATE Assessing clients' capacity to instruct counsel P7 FOCUS ON Privacy Law P8 See Employee, page 2 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 28, No.3 January 23, 2017 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M Lee Akazaki says a judge's comments about a man who masqueraded as a lawyer at a recent criminal trial do not do any favours for the legal profession. BAIL BILL DONE? Feds look to nix Senate bill on bail reform P4 BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times O ntario lawyers say the justice system could be looking at more self- represented litigants as Legal Aid Ontario grapples with how to tackle a $26-million deficit. In December, LAO — an inde- pendent agency at arms length of the government that funds it — revealed its deficit and published plans to alleviate its budgetary woes, which included a scale back on certificates issued for accused people who do not face a risk of incarceration. Lawyers say this could mean that many will be denied le- gal representation in Ontario's courts, causing an increase in self- represented litigants, but LAO of- ficials say that is not the case. Criminal defence lawyer Louis Strezos says LAO's reduction in certificates will deny access to justice for many accused and will burden the courts with an in- f lux of self-represented litigants. Strezos says he is very troubled by some of the cuts LAO has an- nounced. LAO has an annual bud- get of $440 million. "Whether there is enough money to serve everybody charged with a criminal offence — the an- swer is no, but it's troubling when there is a deficit and there are ser- vice cuts," Strezos says. John McCamus, the chairman of the LAO board, however, says these legal services will continue to be available through duty coun- sel who performed those services before certificates were expanded in June 2015. "It's important that people un- derstand the service reduction is not eliminating service for these people," says McCamus. He says the suspension of those certificates will last only for most if not the entire upcoming fiscal year, and LAO will reinstate them in April 2018. "We hope we will be able to cover it with funding increases in future years, so we think this is a temporary problem," he says. Michael Ras, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, says the cut could See LAO, page 2 Louis Strezos hopes an upcoming review of Legal Aid Ontario will include an analysis of the delivery of services in addition to an audit of the agency's finances. Photo: Robin Kuniski Cuts at Legal Aid Ontario could hurt access to justice: lawyers More self-represented litigants due to deficit? & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM Integrated Legal Marketing Solutions Put Your Digital Marketing Tactics into High Gear Untitled-2 1 2017-01-17 2:52 PM TORONTO | BARRIE | HAMILTON | KITCHENER 1-866-685-3311 | cLeish Orlando_LT_Jan_20_14.indd 1 14-01-15 3:15 PM

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