British Columbia

Do not pose as lawyer, judge tells man accused of doing so repeatedly

Ronald James McKinnon is not a lawyer. But the Law Society of B.C. alleges he has posed as one multiple times over the last seven years — drafting a will, making investments, and even promising to file paperwork in family court.

Law Society of B.C. alleges Ronald James McKinnon presented himself as a lawyer to at least 5 people

Ronald James McKinnon, shown here, is accused of falsely presenting himself as a lawyer to at least five people. (Jonathan Davidson)

Ronald James McKinnon is not a lawyer. But the Law Society of B.C. alleges he has posed as one multiple times over the last seven years — drafting a will, making investments and even promising to file paperwork in family court.

Last month, a B.C. Supreme Court justice granted an injunction against McKinnon, ordering him not to present himself as a lawyer, "until such time as he becomes a member in good standing of the Law Society."

An investigation was launched into McKinnon's activities after a complaint was filed in March, according to a petition filed by the law society. The petition alleges he has falsely presented himself as a lawyer to at least five people since 2011.

'He offered his guidance and friendship'

At the centre of the petition is Jonathan Davidson, who told CBC he met McKinnon last year when he was hired to do some repairs at a building McKinnon was managing.

"It was at a bad time in my life. I was going through a breakup and thought I might lose my one-year-old son. Ron could see I was in pain and he offered his guidance and friendship, or so I thought," Davidson wrote in an email.

According to the law society petition, McKinnon claimed he was a "semi-retired lawyer and a successful investor."

Jonathan Davidson has also filed a claim against McKinnon in small claims court. (David Horemans/CBC)

Over the next year, McKinnon allegedly drafted a will, incorporated a company, offered to appeal a tax assessment, accepted $2,000 to help with a criminal complaint, sold property and made investments on Davidson's behalf.

McKinnon even offered to help with Davidson's custody dispute, claiming to have filed paperwork and scheduled a court hearing on his behalf, the law society alleges.

"He had not, in fact, done so," the petition reads.

Davidson, who has also filed a criminal complaint and a small claims suit against McKinnon, told CBC: "I thought he was helping me and doing favours because he was a good person."

Multiple witnesses signed affidavits

McKinnon did not file a response to the law society's petition and no one appeared in court to argue his case, according to the injunction.

When CBC left a voicemail message on a phone number listed in McKinnon's court filings, a man who introduced himself as Ron McKinnon returned the call. When asked about the law society matter, the man said that case involved his father, who had recently moved to Calgary and transferred his phone number to his son.

McKinnon did not return calls to a cellphone number provided by Davidson.

The law society petition includes statements from four other witnesses who signed affidavits alleging McKinnon presented himself as a lawyer in their interactions.

One of those affidavits is from Vancouver lawyer Bonnie Lepin, who filed a complaint against McKinnon in 2015. She alleges he phoned her, saying he was representing the defendant in a case she was involved in and asked her to postpone an examination for discovery.

After that incident, the law society alleges it warned McKinnon that it could launch court proceedings against him if it received further evidence he had presented himself as a lawyer.

Another affidavit alleges that McKinnon incorporated a company in 2011 on behalf of a man named William Carleton and continues to list himself as the company's lawyer.

Lawsuit and criminal complaints filed

Davidson filed a small claims suit against McKinnon in April over an alleged unpaid loan. According to the claim, Davidson has loaned McKinnon $68,900 to hold for investments and purchase a condo.

"He will not respond to to my calls or messages," Davidson wrote in the claim. "In an email, he said he would transfer the monies by April 6, 2018, but I never received anything and he has not explained why.

Davidson alleges he lent $68,900 to McKinnon that was never paid back. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)

Davidson's claim is for $35,000, the maximum amount allowed in small claims court. He told CBC he could not afford the legal costs for launching a civil claim to retrieve the full amount of the alleged loan.

McKinnon has filed a reply to Davidson's claim, writing just five words: "The calculations are not accurate."

Meanwhile, Burnaby RCMP have confirmed they've opened a fraud investigation based on Davidson's criminal complaint but would not provide any further details.

None of the allegations contained in the Law Society petition and Davidson's statement of claim has been proven in court.


Bethany Lindsay


Bethany Lindsay is a Vancouver-based journalist for CBC News, currently reporting on health. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.