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Former Smithers lawyer disbarred
A lawyer formerly practising in Smithers was disbarred by the Law Society of British Columbia on Monday for submitting false accounts to the Legal Services Society and altering her employee's records to include additional hours.
Laurel Elizabeth Hudson (Tanner) was found to have, on a number of occasions, billed accounts to the LSS in order to recover time spent by legal assistants, when it was not permitted, and altered the records of lawyers working at her firm to include 20 per cent more hours worked.
The offences occurred between April 2007 and November 2008 when Tanner was operating the Laurel Elizabeth Hudson Law Corporation, formerly Beaver Law Corporation.
A total dollar figure was not available, said Ryan-Sang Lee, communications officer with the Law Society of B.C.
“The audit report took random samplings of the accounts so an exact dollar figure isn't known,” Lee said. “We can say that [Tanner's] earnings from falsified billings were in the thousands.”
Tanner signed an Agreed Statement of Facts last July, admitting the allegations constituted professional misconduct.
“I continued to bill the Legal Services Society of B.C for legal assistant time in the face of the LSS billing protocol and the billing audit conducted by LSS in 2007 because I believed at the time that I was justified in doing so,” she stated in an Oct. 24, 2011 letter to the Law Society of B.C. “Specifically, I considered that the work done by my assistance was valuable enough to our clients that its exclusion from the LSS billing protocol was improper, and that my actions were therefore justified. Essentially I thought, wrongfully, that I knew better than the LSS. I regret this.”
Tanner's ex-husband Terrance Hudson was working for her at the time of the offences. He has been practicing law on his own since September of 2011.
“I became aware of it when the law society complaint was filed,” Terrance said. “I really can't comment because it's a law society issue – we're not allowed.”
The Interior News was unable to locate Tanner to speak with her about the matter. A call to Tanner's lawyer was not returned.
When a lawyer is disbarred by the Law Society of B.C., it means they are unable to practice law for an indefinite term in the province. They can apply for reinstatement back into the law society.
A disbarment can also be appealed, explained Lee.
“Our role is to protect the public,” he said. “It's very rare for us to disbar a lawyer. We typically disbar between zero and two lawyers every year.”
Tanner was also ordered to pay the hearing costs of $13,860.