Cape Breton lawyer agrees to 10-month suspension for multiple breaches
T.J. McKeough admitted to breaches of integrity and client confidentiality
A Cape Breton lawyer who admitted to multiple breaches of integrity and client confidentiality has been suspended for 10 months and ordered to pay $1,000 to cover the costs of a disciplinary hearing before the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.
In a hearing last month, T.J. McKeough admitted his conduct required sanctions. The only question was how long the Sydney, N.S., lawyer should be suspended.
Lawyers for the society had been asking for an 18-month suspension, but the two sides reached agreement on the shorter term. Terms of the disciplinary decision were released this week.
One of the factors the disciplinary panel took into consideration was McKeough's lack of proper guidance. He articled with and later became a partner in a law firm with Nash Brogan, who was supposed to mentor him.
In its decision, the panel said McKeough described various incidents where there was a "clear lack of training and mentorship and, as Mr. McKeough described it, bullying."
Brogan himself has been suspended for six months after a separate disciplinary panel found him guilty of misconduct and incompetence.
The panel hearing the case against McKeough acknowledged there was a fair amount of overlap in the cases involving the two lawyers, but it found McKeough's transgressions were worse than those committed by Brogan, so they required a longer suspension.
While he is suspended, McKeough has been ordered to upgrade his training. When he returns to practice, he's to confine his work to criminal law for the first five years. He also must operate under the guidance of a practice supervisor — a senior lawyer that he will have to pay for.
McKeough will also not be allowed to have an article clerk working under him for the first 10 years when he resumes practising.