Hamilton lawyer loses law licence for misappropriating client’s money

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Published October 18, 2022 at 3:15 pm

A now-former lawyer in Hamilton has lost his licence due to three findings of professional misconduct — including one that he spent money that he was holding in trust for a client.

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) recently posted a ruling by its hearing division in the matter of Matthew Carson, who practised family law under the firm name LFA Carson Professional Corporation. The firm had offices in downtown Hamilton.

From 2017 to ’19, Carson represented a client in his family law case. The parties agreed that the client would receive $120,505, which were transferred into Carson’s trust account on Sept. 3, 2019. But the funds never made it to the client. The client took the matter to the Law Society, which opened an investigation late in August 2020.

This past August, some three years and an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic later, proceedings were held by videoconference.

Investigators from LSO found that Carson moved some “$34,551 from his trust account to his general account and used it to pay for business disbursements and personal expenses. He also used about $25,000 from that settlement to meet “unrelated financial obligations” to other clients. Bookkeeping at the firm was also lacking, the LSO says.

The body that self-regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario has paid the client some $117,407.93, the amount they would have received minus the normal billable hours for the legal work.

Initially, the LSO held that Carson should reimburse that entire amount. However, after some bookkeeping revisions, and subtraction of some $59,000 that is now under LSO trusteeship, Carson will have to pay back about half that.

The quondam legal advocate, whose full name is Matthew Adam Beau-Thane Carson, will instead have to pay the LSO $57,438.12 by Feb. 24, 2024. In addition to having his licence revoked, he must comply fully with the terms of the Law Society’s Guidelines for Former Lawyers Whose Licences Have Been Revoked or Who Have Been Permitted to Surrender Their Licences.

The full ruling is accessible at canlii.org.

There is a firm named Carson Law that is based in Burlington. That practice, though, has a focus that includes real estate transactions, business growth and estate/succession planning.

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