Oft-mar­ried Sur­rey lawyer sus­pended by law so­ci­ety

The Province - - News - CAS­SIDY OLIVIER THE PROV­INCE co­l­ivier@the­p­rovince.com twit­ter.com/cas­sidy­o­livier

Sur­rey lawyer Aaron Mur­ray Less­ing has been sus­pended from his fam­ily law prac­tice for a month af­ter a re­view of a dis­ci­plinary ac­tion de­ter­mined that a sus­pen­sion was more ap­pro­pri­ate than the hefty fine he had been or­dered to pay.

Less­ing, who has been mar­ried five times, was or­dered in Oc­to­ber 2012 by the Law So­ci­ety of B.C. to pay $22,000 in costs and a fine for com­mit­ting “pro­fes­sional mis­con­duct” and en­gag­ing in con­duct “un­be­com­ing a lawyer.”

The judg­ment was re­lated to two sep­a­rate ci­ta­tions is­sued by the law so­ci­ety in 2011.

The first, in March 2011, was the re­sult of Less­ing fail­ing to re­port as re­quired the $187,000 of debt he car­ried, some of which was the re­sult of his mar­riage breakups.

The sec­ond ci­ta­tion was is­sued in July af­ter Less­ing breached three court or­ders dur­ing a mat­ri­mo­nial dis­pute with his ex-wife in which he rep­re­sented him­self. He was also found to be in con­tempt of court at one point, al­though this was later “purged.”

Com­pli­cat­ing the case, the re­view panel noted, was that Less­ing had raised his men­tal state — de­pres­sion, avoid­ance be­hav­iour and “symp­toms of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der” — dur­ing the orig­i­nal hear­ing that re­sulted in the fine. The re­view panel took Less­ing’s men­tal state into ac­count as a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor, but ul­ti­mately ruled that a sus­pen­sion was war­ranted.

“(T)his panel feels that the mit­i­gat­ing fact of the re­spon­dent’s men­tal health does not go as far as di­min­ish­ing the dis­ci­plinary ac­tion to a fine,” the re­view panel con­cluded. “Pub­lic con­fi­dence in the le­gal pro­fes­sion, as seen through the eyes of the av­er­age cit­i­zen re­quires a sus­pen­sion.

“In this case, a fine would not in­spire con­fi­dence in the le­gal pro­fes­sion or the dis­ci­plinary process. How­ever, a min­i­mum sus­pen­sion would.”

Less­ing was called to the bar in 1991, and has prac­tised law for more than 20 years. He could not be reached for com­ment.

The sus­pen­sion will be­gin Dec. 11.

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