British Columbia

B.C. lawyer showed 'stunning lack of judgment' in representing girlfriend he'd also assaulted

Michael Murph Ranspot's actions amount to professional misconduct, according to the Law Society of B.C.

Michael Ranspot committed professional misconduct, law society decision says

Lawyer Michael Ranspot faces disciplinary penalties for professional misconduct. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

A West Vancouver lawyer who seriously assaulted his girlfriend while improperly representing her in divorce proceedings demonstrated "gross culpable neglect of his duties," according to the Law Society of B.C.

Michael Murph Ranspot's actions amount to professional misconduct, a decision issued this week says.

"The [law society] panel finds that these circumstances are the result, on so many levels, of a stunning lack of judgment. This conduct can only amount to 'gross culpable neglect of his duties as a lawyer,'" the decision reads.

Ranspot pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for the 2015 attack, which landed the woman in hospital.

He'd been in a romantic relationship with the victim for nearly four years at the time and was acting on her behalf in a family law proceeding involving her common-law husband, according to the decision. He was also lending her money, without making sure she had the necessary independent legal advice to consent to the arrangement.

Ranspot has admitted to all of the allegations against him but denied that it amounted to professional misconduct, according to the law society. He and his lawyer did not attend hearings to consider his behaviour.

A date has yet to be set to determine his penalty for the misconduct.

Lawyer 'clearly was not remorseful'

The law society first issued a citation against Ranspot in September 2017, just a few months after he received a conditional discharge for the assault.

According to the decision, Ranspot started dating a woman known as CC in April 2012. A year later, she began divorce proceedings against her ex-partner, hoping to divide their property, obtain a protection order and sort out spousal support.

Ranspot represented her off and on for the next two years, lending her money on an "as-needed" basis to help her cover expenses, according to the decision.

He continued to represent her even after the assault on Dec. 31, 2015, which marked the end of their romantic relationship.

Ranspot explained the assault in a letter to the law society two months later, claiming that he acted in self defence. He said that CC had "mental health and emotional issues" and had "at times, demonstrated extreme anger and violence towards me."

That response suggested Ranspot "clearly was not remorseful, nor was he taking responsibility for his actions," the law society says.

This isn't Ranspot's first time being disciplined by the professional regulator.

He was suspended from practice for 18 months beginning in 1997 after billing the Legal Services Society for legal aid that he hadn't provided, among other examples of misconduct. He was also fined in 2007 for professional misconduct.