ST. JOHN’S, NL — A St. John’s lawyer has been suspended from practice for 60 days after violating law society rules and code of professional conduct when it comes to clients’ money held in trust.
The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador told an adjudication tribunal it was not suggesting that Susan LeDrew, QC, had acted maliciously, but had been reckless when she withdrew clients’ trust money without ensuring her records were in order.
LeDrew, 52, was subject to a trust audit in December 2018 and a subsequent investigation identified a total trust shortfall of $35.843.32. According to an agreed statement of facts, LeDrew had inappropriately withdrawn the shortfall amounts and failed to document the transfers, using the money for personal purposes. The situation occurred, the statement indicated, because LeDrew had failed to properly record electronically transferred funds, was unable to find a consistently reliable employee and had been experiencing a period of particular stress, and had failed to complete monthly trust reconciliations as per law society requirements .
The violations involved 10 different clients over a two-year period, and included incidents where trust money was transferred to pay for the same invoice two and three times.
“Had LeDrew managed her trust account with the law society rules, including completing monthly trust reconciliations, she would have known her trust account was in a shortfall on a monthly basis,” the statement indicated.
LeDrew had begun to replenish the account after becoming aware of the issue and has since returned all the funds.
The law society argued LeDrew’s actions amounted to misappropriation of clients’ money. While it acknowledged her prior good character and lack of convictions, it submitted she deserved a serious sanction, given her experience and the need to maintain public confidence in the legal profession.
The law society