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[BC省新聞] 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 findsCBC News · Posted: Oct 10, 2018 4:00 AM PT | Last Updated: 7 hours ago

Former Vancouver lawyer Steven Mansfield has been disbarred after misappropriating more than $400,000 in client cash in 2016. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

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.

Steven Mansfield practised alone at this address in Vancouver for the last four years of his law career.(Google Maps)

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.