N.S. lawyer found guilty of professional misconduct but cleared of stealing funds
Disciplinary panel must now determine an appropriate penalty for Adam Rodgers
A Nova Scotia lawyer has been found guilty of professional misconduct for events that led to the collapse of his law firm.
However, a disciplinary panel of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society found that the most serious charges against Adam Rodgers were not supported.
Rodgers and Jason Boudrot were partners in the law firm Boudrot Rodgers until October 2018. That's when Rodgers alleged he discovered his partner was stealing from clients' trust accounts.
The society reached a settlement agreement with Boudrot in September 2019. While he 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.
Panel releases decision
The society accused Rodgers of professional incompetence and professional misconduct, saying he should have spotted what his partner was doing sooner and stopped it. The two sides argued before a three-member panel in October of last year. The panel released its decision on Tuesday.
"The panel is satisfied that Mr. Rodgers did not deliberately nor actively misappropriate funds nor assist Mr. Boudrot in doing so," the decision reads in part.
"The panel is satisfied the society has demonstrated that it is more probable than not that Adam Rodgers aided Jason Boudrot through his willful blindness and recklessness and thereby failed to preserve and protect clients' property."
'My conscience was always clear'
Rodgers previously said he expected to be exonerated by the panel, saying he was a victim of his former partner's "selfish, thoughtless ambition."
On Tuesday, the Port Hawkesbury lawyer said he was pleased to be absolved of misappropriating funds.
"My conscience was always clear, but it was still satisfying to see it confirmed by the panel," he said. "That I didn't take anything from anybody and that I did good work as a lawyer for my clients, and handled the crisis brought on by my former partner in an appropriate manner."
Rodgers said he has had no contact with his former partner.
A forensic audit ordered by the society found Boudrot was taking money out of trust accounts without authorization.
"Some may say that Adam Rodgers was naive and a dupe or unknowing accomplice for Jason Boudrot; conversely, some may say Adam Rodgers was a victim of Jason Boudrot," the panel wrote.
The panel must meet within 60 days to determine what penalty Rodgers should face. He said he does not expect anything as severe as disbarment.
Rodgers is now practising on his own. The loss of funds and resulting controversy forced his former firm into bankruptcy. He is representing members of the family of Lionel Desmond in the inquiry looking into why the former soldier killed his family and himself.
That inquiry resumes public hearings next month and Rodgers said that is taking up most of his time right now.