N.S. Barristers' Society recommends Adam Rodgers be disbarred
Panel found Rodgers guilty last month of professional misconduct
The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society is calling for the disbarment of a Port Hawkesbury lawyer recently found guilty of professional misconduct for his role in the collapse of his law firm.
Society counsel Bernadine MacAulay told a disciplinary panel Monday that disbarment is the only option for dealing with Adam Rodgers, whose firm shut down after he allegedly discovered his law partner was misappropriating funds.
MacAuley said her recommendation is not to punish Rodgers, but to protect the public and uphold its trust in the legal profession.
Rodgers, who has described himself as a victim of his former law partner, said the society's recommendation is "comically absurd" and that an official reprimand would be more appropriate.
Alleged theft from clients
Rodgers and his former law partner, Jason Boudrot, ran the Boudrot Rodgers firm in Port Hawkesbury until October 2018. That's when Rodgers alleged he discovered Boudrot was stealing from clients' trust accounts.
The barristers' society reached a settlement agreement with Boudrot in September 2019. While Boudrot did not admit guilt, he agreed to be disbarred.
The RCMP has launched a criminal investigation into Boudrot's activities, but no charges have been laid. An RCMP officer has been monitoring the disciplinary process against Rodgers.
The society argued during Rodgers's disciplinary hearing that he should have known what his partner was doing and should have taken steps to prevent the misappropriation of funds.
'Willful blindness and recklessness'
In a written decision last month, the disciplinary panel said it did not believe Rodgers misappropriated funds or helped Boudrot do so.
However, it found Rodgers guilty of professional misconduct, saying he aided his former partner "through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed to preserve and protect clients' property."
Rodgers admitted to the panel that he could have done more, but suggested he is being unfairly singled out and is being treated more severely than Boudrot. He said his actions could be used as an example of how to react in a crisis like the one his firm faced.
Rodgers said he's had to declare personal bankruptcy and is still under restrictions imposed by the society, including that he pay to have another lawyer supervise his practice.
Representing Desmond family
He said he still has the support of his community and has been earning new clients while his case makes its way through the system.
Rodgers is representing the family of Lionel Desmond in the fatality inquiry into the deaths of Desmond, his wife, daughter and mother-in-law.
The inquiry's public hearings are scheduled to resume next week in Port Hawkesbury.
The disciplinary panel of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has 30 days to issue its decision on whether Rodgers should be disbarred.
Rodgers said the panel should award him costs for what he has endured. The society has asked for costs from Rodgers of around $30,000.