Terry-Ann WalkerPLBA 4003Individual Assignment: Pitfall in ParalegalPracticesN01049597January 8, 2018 In TheLaw Society of Upper Canada v.
Cao 2016 ONLSTH 116, Kiet Van Cao is a 50years old man who was licenced as a paralegal in 2009, as a sole practitioner.In his years of practice, he has never been in trouble with the Law Societybefore. In 2013 Mr.
Cao was hired by a client to represent him in an AssaultCausing Bodily Harm case, contrary to section 266(b) of the Criminal Code ofCanada. Mr. Cao made the first appearance for his client to the Ontario Courtof Justice on August 26, 2013, to make a guilty plea. On that same day, the courtrealized that Mr. Cao did not understand the question that was posed by thejudge to make the plea, so the Crown refused the guilty plea.
“The Court didnot accept the guilty plea, with the presiding judge stating that he felt”distinctly uncomfortable” doing so.”1The court then adjourned the case and set it for a pre-trial a week later. Onthe second appearance on September 11, 2013, the judge asked Mr. Cao somequestion and he was only able to answer only three of the question.
It came tothe judge attention that Mr. Cao was not competent to represent his client andput on record that he was not able to answer basic legal concepts. The judgethen asked Mr.
Cao to show her his business card and it stated: Kiet CaoMember of the Law Society – CommissionerCalis Legal & ImmigrationCriminal, Pardon, Bankruptcy,Civil Claim, Divorce, Translation,Tax, Finance, InvestmentCar Accident, Insurance, License,Traffic Tickets, Permit, Sponsor,Visa Student, Labour, Travel.2After examiningMr. Cao business card the judge decided to write a letter to her RegionalSenior Justice with a letter of complaint that needed to forward to theAssociate Chief Justice’s Office and then to the Law Society of Upper Canada.In this letter, she let them know that when she had examined Mr. Cao businesscard it was misleading and it did not state that he was a paralegal but itshowed the impression that he was a lawyer. Inthis case, the judge found Mr.
Cao had engaged in professional misconduct asset out the Notice of Application. Mr. Cao is no longer provided legal servicessince November 2015 and is working under the supervision of Mr. Sunny Vincentwho’s is a lawyer.
Mr. Cao was also to take English course to better hisEnglish Language skills. Additionally, Mr. Cao no longer has business card andif were to get new one Mr. Vincent would review them beforehand. There wasjoint submission made in this case where Mr. Cao would be reprimanded and wasordered to take to take a one year certified continuing professionaldevelopment.
The penalty that was imposed on Mr. Cao is set out in the case Law Society of Upper Canada v. Strug, 2008ONLSKP 8 at paras. 3to 7. They are: a. A specific deterrence;b. General deterrence; c.
Rehabilitation, restitution andimproving a licensee’s practice; and d. To maintain confidence in the legalprofession 3In considerationof these factors, the hearing panel decided that the disposition was withinreasonable range and that Mr. Cao pays cost to The Law Society (Apendix1).
“Afterexamining four other cases the judge found that Mr. Cao misconduct was unintendedand that he has shown remorse by returning client’s funds and corporation withthe Law Society, including in the preparation of the ASF (Avocats Sans Frontières).”4Inthis case, Mr. Cao broke rule 8.03(2) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct. Mr.
Cao broke this rule by marketingmisleading, confusing, or deceptive business cards. Mr. Cao also broke a By-Lawrule which is Section 6(2) of By-Law 4 of the Act where it sets out the scopethat a paralegal is able to practice. Mr. Cao broke this rule by representingsomeone that was charged with Assault Causing Bodily harm which is a criminalOffence with the sentence exceeding six months. Mr. Cao broke section 802.
1 ofthe Criminal Code by representing aperson on a summary conviction because the imprisonment exceeds six months. Inthis case, I believe that all of this could have been avoided if Mr. Cao followedup the Paralegal Professional Rules of conduct. If he did not know what he wasdoing he could have sought help from a lawyer or the Law Society, they wouldhave pointed him in the right direction and he could have avoided themisleading business cards. I agree with the findings of the disciplinary bodybecause Mr.
Cao did not intentionally provide these services, he simply did notknow that he was not practicing within the scope of a paralegal and he made aneffort to make things right. I agree with the penalty that was posed on Mr. Caobecause he is taking further education to improve his English language skill,and he had made the necessary steps to be supervised by a lawyer until helearns and masters the role of a paralegal. What others can learn from Mr. Caomistake is asking questions when they are in doubt and if they do not know whatthey are doing or what their scope of practice is they can refer to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct or seek helpfrom The Law Society of Upper Canada. Inconclusion, I do not believe that there were any ethical breaches because Mr.Cao made a proposal to the court and it was within a reasonable scope.
Heagreed to do a ASF and to improve his English language and to be supervised byMr. Vincent. Appendix 1Conclusion44 Having considered the law concerning jointsubmissions, the purposes of penalty orders, the Aguirre factorsand other cases, I am satisfied that the proposed disposition iswithin the range of reasonable outcomes inall the circumstances of this case and is in the publicinterest.COSTS45 The parties jointly submittedthat the appropriate costs order was one requiring thatMr. Cao pay costs to the Law Society of thismatter in the amount of $1,500 and I accepted this asreasonable. COMMENDATIONS46 I wish to commend the parties, and Messrs.
Gelbardand Vincent, for working together to resolve this matterin the public interest. I also wish to commend and thank Mr.Vincent for his willingness to act as Mr. Cao’s supervisor, in order tohelp and guide Mr. Cao as he learns andmasters the role of paralegal. This willingness tohelp a colleague is most admirable and is in the finesttraditions of the legal professions. Finally, I wish tocommend Ms.
Quenneville on her excellent oral submissions at the hearing.ORDER47 For the reasons set out above, Imade the following Order on May 11, 2016:1. The Respondent shall be reprimanded.2. The Respondent is to participate in an accreditedprogram of continuing professional developmentwithin the next twelve (12) months, which mustinclude the following as a minimum:a) Best Practices for Paralegals appearingbefore the Ontario Court of Justice; b) Paralegal Practice Essentials – Criminal Law; andc) Tips from the Bench for Paralegals.3. The Respondentshall pay coststo the Law Society in the amount of $1500.00,on or before May 11, 2018.
Commencing immediately after that date,interest shall accrue on any unpaid part of those costs, at arate of 2% per annum.5 1 Law Society of Upper Canada v. Cao, 2016 ONLSTH 1162 Law Society of Upper Canada v. Cao, 2016 ONLSTH 116, p.
113 Ibid4 LawSociety of Upper Canada v. Cao 2016 ONLSTH 1165 Law Society of Upper Canada v. Cao, 2016 ONLSTH 116