B.C. lawyer disbarred after misappropriating $400K in client cash
Steven Neil Mansfield used a $200K child-support settlement meant for client to 'meet a debt,' regulator finds
A B.C. lawyer with more than 25 years' experience has been disbarred after misappropriating more than $400,000 from his clients.
In one case, Steven Neil Mansfield — who practised as a family lawyer in Vancouver — kept $200,000 in child support from a client so he could pay off his own debt.
After being investigated, he blamed his actions on a gambling addiction.
In its decision, the Law Society of B.C. said "anything less than this disbarment [for Mansfield] would be wholly inadequate for the protection of the public."
Used cash to 'meet a debt'
Mansfield started practising law in B.C. in 1993. He'd been working alone as the Bayshore Law Group since 2013.
One client, TH, hired him to settle a divorce and child support case. TH's ex-spouse ended up paying TH $200,000 in child support as a result, which their lawyer gave to Mansfield in 2016.
Instead of passing that money to TH, Mansfield took the cash and used it to "meet a debt."
The decision said he used money from another client, YZ, to pay her back.
Mansfield pushed that second client, YZ, to settle with his ex-wife for $200,000 later in 2016.
YZ agreed and transferred the money to Mansfield who used it to repay TH.
'Marked' departure from the norm
Mansfield lost his registration as a lawyer after he failed to pay fees in January 2017.
He was disbarred on Oct. 5 after a disciplinary hearing.
In its decision, the law society panel said Mansfield's actions were a "marked" departure from the standard lawyers are expected to meet.
It also said Mansfield apologized, agreed with the disbarment and blamed a gambling addiction for his actions.
The panel said an addiction wasn't enough to justify his actions.