The end of law school is in sight- my exams start next week and by the end of April I will be a Western Law graduate!
In order to obtain my licence to practice law in Ontario, the next step is for me to write the Bar exam in June and complete 10 months of articling- then I’ll be admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and will finally be a qualified lawyer.
But as Ryan Manilla has learned, meeting those two requirements doesn’t guarantee admission into the law society. Manilla is a graduate of Osgoode law school who was recently rejected from the Law Society for failure to meet its “good character” requirement.
According to the Toronto Star, Manilla was president of his condo board but got into a dispute with members over fee increases. He sent threatening emails to other members, and boasted that he got a thrill out of making other members squirm. He was kicked off the board; he forged a letter pretending to be a private investigator alleging kickbacks and other wrongdoings among board members. He was charged with four counts of criminal harassment, but the charges were dropped after he apologized to the board members, made charitable donations in their names and attended anger management classes.
Manilla appealed his rejection but the law society recently dismissed his appeal, partly on the grounds that not enough time has passed to show that he is of good character. (He admitted to forging the letter only five days before his hearing.)
While I sympathize a bit with Manilla, who has obviously worked hard to achieve his goal of being a lawyer – he graduated near the top of his class and summered and articled at prestigious law firms—I can also understand that the law society has a responsibility to maintain standards in the profession and to protect the public.
The Law Society Act doesn’t define good character, but it is something for those of us just entering the profession to keep in mind. In fact we should always keep it in mind, since the law society will be regulating us for the duration of our careers:
“Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.”