Some Canadian lawyers are too big to jail

Canada Lawyer SAN

How the corrupting influence of large law firms undermines Canada’s justice system and threatens self-regulation of the legal profession (Part 1 of a series)

“I see you as an embittered, vengeful, 82 year-old liar, stupid enough to espouse the desires of a venal Canadian backer, the pawn of totally incompetent counsel and of stupid and revenge-driven children.”

“Now, what happens if you die before the matter is resolved (as, at your age, you may)…”

“BITCH.
We will kill you while you are asleep. Lock your doors and windows real good.”

From a series of anonymous threatening emails sent to an 82 year old witness by unknown personnel from Miller Thomson LLP’s Toronto law office, and by other co-conspirators.*

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

This is the first of a series of articles that will examine the corrupting influence of large law firms, and how senior lawyers from some large Canadian law firms are Too Big to Jail; even when the evidence against them is devastating, irrefutable and uncontested.

Today we present an overview of concerns with the operations of large law firms. We also look at the financial pressures and greed that some lawyers and judges believe is motivating increased unethical and even criminal behavior by large law firm lawyers.

There have always been quietly discussed concerns within the Ontario legal profession, that large ‘mega’ law firms have become so powerful and influential that they dominate and skew trial outcomes, the justice system itself and the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) that is responsible for the self-regulation of Ontario’s lawyers.

Some time ago the law society adjusted its system of electing regional ‘Benchers’ in an attempt to mitigate to some extent the dominance of the large Toronto law firms in the governance of the legal profession.

The law society changes, however, did not even begin to address concerns that the operations of mega law firms:

  • Limit access to justice for ordinary citizens and small to medium businesses,
  • Cause and conceal conflicts of interest that can harm clients,
  • Undermine national and public interests, and the political process, in the pursuit of profits above all else,
  • Compromise professional integrity in the pursuit of money and in ‘winning at any cost’ to attract and maintain large top-tier clients,
  • Receive unhealthy deference from the legal profession and the courts, and
  • Receive unhealthy deference from the Law Society of Upper Canada and other regulators in matters of misconduct and discipline.

Concerns about the impact of large law firms upon society and the legal profession are universal in North American jurisdictions. Some twenty years ago, now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Robert A. Katzmann published:  

“As large firms have grown and multiplied, despondency about the decline of law practice from its virtuous and collegial past has intensified. Within the legal profession itself, many share the sense that law has freshly descended from a noble profession infused with civic virtue to a commercial pursuit. In the most erudite and theoretically sophisticated account of decline, the dean of the Yale Law School counsels idealistic young lawyers to stay clear of large firms, because they have a “harshly economizing spirit” and “increasingly commercial culture”.

The Law Firm and the Public Good, Robert A. Katzmann, page 40

Motivation for wrongdoing by large law firms

If Chief Judge Katzmann were writing today, he would undoubtedly remark that the almost decade long economic downturn, combined with a glut of lawyers and law firms, has transformed many once amiable legal professionals into belligerents in a war of survival where lawyers, law firms and regulators are increasingly moving farther away from the founding standards of the ‘noble profession’.

So many large and ‘mega’ large law firms have failed in the last seven to ten years that I need provide only a few major examples here. An accurate, comprehensive list would take days to compile.

The news media labeled February 12, 2009 ‘Black Thursday’ when large New York law firms laid off almost 1000 lawyers. Then after three more years of increasing carnage in the legal profession, the 2012 Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy became the largest single law firm failure in the history of the United States with 1100 lawyers plus support staff put out of work. The former chairman, chief financial officer and the executive director were indicted on charges of grand larceny.

In Canada, the 2014 implosion of Heenan Blaikie put 500 lawyers on the street. The law firm counted amongst its alumni former Prime Ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, as well as Quebec Premier Pierre Marc Johnson, Supreme Court of Canada Justices Michel Bastarache and Clement Gascon, and former Associate Chief Justice of Ontario John W. Morden.

The failure of such a large and prestigious law firm as Heenan Blaikie was previously inconceivable in Canada.

The economic viability of large law firms is under extreme pressure, and recent events show that some management committees obviously believe that desperate times justify desperate measures to keep the money flowing.

Big Law’s motto: “Anything to win. Anything to generate monthly cash flow.”

Today we have too many lawyers and law firms chasing too few client dollars.

Big Law’s long-term leases in prestigious office towers at Bay and King in Toronto and on Vancouver’s waterfront are now horrendous cash-sucking anchors in the new economy.

One result of this sustained economic pressure is that when it comes to pleasing their big top-tier clients, large law firms are increasingly showing a willingness to do anything to win; including engaging in conduct that is not only unethical and against LSUC rules, but even criminal.

Who knew that ‘customer service’ by some of Canada’s largest law firms included committing criminal offences to win cases?

Two recent civil cases** involving yours truly show just how far large mega law firms will go to win for their clients, and how others in the legal profession routinely ignore or cover-up criminal offenses by large law firms and their personnel.

When my legally-made recordings of telephone calls with Toronto lawyers irrefutably proved that senior partners from two of Canada’s largest law firms fabricated evidence and lied to the court to win a civil case, the almost universal reaction by the Ontario legal profession was to brazen it out and do anything necessary to prevent a jury or a judge from hearing those recordings.***

I have to wonder if this protection of the perpetrators would have been the case had the lying lawyers not been senior partners in some of the largest law firms in Canada.

Instead of expressing an apology or showing disgust with their partners’ criminal activities, lawyers from the involved law firms, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, closed ranks to protect two of their top earners. The managing partners apparently accept the fact that their compatriots compromised their professional integrity and violated Canadian laws to win cases for top-tier clients that generate millions in legal fees.

Similarly, when computer forensics proved that personnel at Miller Thomson’s Toronto office used the internet to deliver a series of anonymous threats to some of my witnesses, Miller Thomson LLP manager Nora F. Osbaldeston and other senior partners didn’t even bother to reply to a Florida law firm’s written complaint of the criminal activity.****

Miller Thomson LLP’s computer network logs would identify their specific personnel who made the anonymous threats, but Ms. Osbaldeston never secured the logs. She never delivered the evidence to the Law Society of Upper Canada or to the police. By any definition, Miller Thomson’s senior management covered-up criminal acts by their law firm’s personnel, and did so with a sense of impunity and privilege that must come from being one of Canada’s largest law firms.

Anonymous threatening messages sent to witnesses

Here are some examples of the hundreds of anonymous internet messages sent to my witnesses in Florida and Barbados; including to an 82 year old woman, her daughter and other family members and friends:

“BITCH.
We will kill you while you are asleep. Lock your doors and windows real good.”

“I see you as an embittered, vengeful, 82 year-old liar, stupid enough to espouse the desires of a venal Canadian backer, the pawn of totally incompetent counsel and of stupid and revenge-driven children.”

“KILL rasshole Adrian… RAPE rasshole Margaret…”

“Thus, in addition to the potential and probable financial ruin brought to yourself and your children, you (and they) will be branded, at worst, as vindictive liars and cheats and, at best, as credulous cretins.”

“I’d be glad to slice open your little white neck, you foolish goose.”

“Now, what happens if you die before the matter is resolved (as, at your age, you may) and before any of these actions commenced by you have been adjudicated?”

“Please understand when i write the following that i’m sane, 100% in control of myself. Pay some from a neighbor island to come here and kill them all. Enough with the talk, make these people pay.”

“I do not know why you did not cut a deal when you might have been able to do so – as, if the Respondents were MY clients, I certainly would not allow them to entertain any deal with you now.”

Both Miller Thomson LLP and the Law Society of Upper Canada are well aware of these vile messages to my witnesses and the strong forensic evidence that proves many of them originated from the computer network at Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto.*

In my November 28, 2012 letter to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s senior management, Robert Lapper QC and Thomas G. Conway, I stated:

“Anonymous threats to witnesses from Miller Thomson LLP computers

There is also strong forensic evidence that a series of threatening and harassing anonymous emails to my witnesses originated from the computer systems of one of the involved large Toronto law firms (Miller Thomson), starting in at least 2004 and carrying on for many years. There is strong documentary evidence that the Miller Thomson law firm was provided with this evidence in writing in 2009 and 2010, yet the firm’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Roman, withheld the evidence from the judge during my case: all the while arguing that his client and firm were not involved.”

The Law Society of Upper Canada did nothing. No investigation took place. No evidence was seized from Miller Thompson LLP. LSUC investigators did not contact any witnesses or potential suspects.

After a Florida law firm complained and sent forensic evidence of criminal conduct by Miller Thomson LLP personnel, why didn’t the Law Society of Upper Canada investigate and seize evidence from the Toronto office of Miller Thomson LLP, Canada’s eighth largest law firm?

That’s an excellent question. If either LSUC or Miller Thomson LLP wish to respond, I will publish their unedited answer at DonaldBest.ca.

Next in this Series

Limiting Access to Justice: How large law firms bully and buy off smaller law firms and lawyers

* Not all the anonymous messages are proven to have been sent from Miller Thomson LLP. There were hundreds of threatening online messages sent to my witnesses, family members and other involved persons. Their IP numbers and origins are noted in various documents filed with the courts, as indicated in the web postings on DonaldBest.ca. Of the examples in the section ‘Anonymous threatening messages sent to witnesses’, numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8 are proven to have originated from Miller Thomson LLP’s Toronto office.

** 1/ Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. vs Cox et al, 2/ Donald Best vs Gerald Ranking et al

*** Ordinary Canadians are always amazed to learn that after 6 years of to and fro before the courts and almost 20 hearings, no judge has ever listened to, or consented to listen to, the November 17, 2009 voice recordings that prove lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne S. Silver fabricated evidence and lied to the court both in writing and orally in submissions. Both Ranking and Silver refuse to present themselves for cross-examination; obviously because they would have to face the voice recordings and other damning solid evidence and then explain why they lied to the court.

**** See Court evidence: Anonymous online threats against 82 year old widow originated from Miller Thomson Law Office

NOTE: As always we remind our readers that none of the allegations in Best v Ranking has yet been proven in a court of law. Visitors to this website are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here, to do independent research and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)

8 comments

  • finally a clean judge out there….who has the guts to pin the blame where the blame is due. Any update on their appeal… we would love to go to the court to listen

  • Enio Zeppieri has taken proceeds this month, July 2016, from my mother’s house sale. He used a judgement he got against me, when my case was declared a mistrial in 2007. The judge declared a mistrial, claiming a conflict of interest Enio Zeppieri knew was untrue, proven by the case’s original exhibits, yet never challenged. He refused to dispute it, sending me a bill for $52,000.

  • We have proven Law Society of Upper Canada is corrupt and they will corrupt lawyers and judges to best suit the LSUC.

    @InjusticeVictim on Twitter.com is a true story and these victims have proven via many evidences that the Ontario judicial system is corrupted by the Law Society of Upper Canada and BIG law firms protecting unethical lawyers. This has got to stop and the LSUC should be publicly investigated.

    BIG Changes to Canada’s Law Societies (especially the LSUC since proven guilty) are needed to better protect Canadians from corrupted lawyers, judges and law societies

  • Pingback: Law Society of Upper Canada unlikely to win the Allard Prize for International Integrity | Donald Best.CA

  • Yucky Lawyers Again

    September 9, 2015: An Ontario Superior Court judge has awarded damages against law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP in the amount of $45 million for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and professional negligence.

    Looks like your article is very timely!

    • I read the decision and the court makes it clear that Cassels Brock intended to screw the GM dealers from the start. Right from the start they had a plan to dump the dealers in favour of the federal government, their other client.

      Cassels Brock can appeal all they want: they acted unethically and illegally. They are scum.

    • Please post the judgement about Cassels & GM dealers. The judge’s comments say it all.

  • Dear Mr. Best,

    You nailed it in this article. Please keep proclaiming the truth about the legal profession in Ontario. It’s time for independent oversight of lawyers.

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