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Canadian Lawyer under Investigation for Possible Legal Malpractice

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Kingston, ONA veteran lawyer from the Canadian city of Kingston has been accused of legal malpractice by the Law Society of Upper Canada with respect to various real estate transactions and mortgages associated with those transactions. The fact that the lawyer at the center of the case has spoken to the matter provides some insight into the issue.

According to the 9/03/10 edition of the Kingston Whig-Standard, the law society alleges that the 65-year-old William John Franklin Bishop, a practicing lawyer for 37 years, either "knowingly assisted in dishonest or fraudulent conduct by his vendor and purchaser clients, or associated persons, to obtain mortgage funds under false pretences" or "failed to be on guard against being duped by unscrupulous clients or associated persons."

The society goes on to allege that Bishop alternatively "abdicated his professional responsibilities by failing to supervise his real estate practice in connection with the transactions."

For his part, Bishop told the Whig-Standard during an interview on 8/3/10, "The allegations are very serious but I have what I believe is a good answer to the charges."

Few details are known about the transactions, save for the fact the real estate transactions at the center of the allegations occurred during a time in the real estate market when many houses were being offered for no money down.

A handful of property owners contacted by the Whig-Standard noted they had been contacted or visited by investigators with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and that in one case investigators took with them most of the paperwork related to the sale.

One property owner told the newspaper that she thought investigators believed "a girl involved was forging lawyers' names."

Bishop, who provided limited comment to the newspaper, said, "Essentially I was acting for some clients who were acquiring houses for people who didn't have houses, all of which I believe are still in the houses unless they've sold them. It was a very unusual time in the sense that people were buying houses and banks were advertising nothing down, that sort of thing."

The lawyer at the center of the possible legal malpractice complaint said that he only acted on behalf of the vendors in all of the transactions identified, and did not prepare or deal with mortgages. Bishop, who said investigators first approached him three years ago, noted that none of his clients filed a complaint with the law society about his conduct. "If I've been in any way...negligent or not proper, I'll have to bear the consequences," he said. "I think I did a decent job. I basically tried to do what I was asked to do."

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