Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds.
Doroshenko has reimbursed sums that were improperly drawn from Acumen Law trust funds during the course of 82 occasions between February 2014 and August 2018.
The high-profile lawyer “placed too much reliance on his staff to ensure that his books were in order,” said a June 16 statement from the Law Society of B.C.
“The misappropriation or improper withdrawals occurred because funds were withdrawn before the accounting mistakes were identified or corrected.”
The shortages were due to data entry errors, improper processing and detailing of retainer payments, or client cheques being returned after funds were withdrawn.
Along with misappropriating or improperly withdrawing client funds, Doroshenko failed to supervise his staff, identifythe trust shortage, or report it to the law society.
The lawyer also made annual trust fund report representations to the law society that his firm did not have more than $300 of his own funds in his pooled trust account. This was not true, he later admitted.
As well, a total of $25,000 in trust funds were deposited late on 20 separate occasions between January 2014 and April 2018.
Cash goes missing in the office
In 2011, Doroshenko had hired an accountant who eventually trained his legal assistant to prepare the firm’s accounting records, according to the consent agreement he made with the Law Society of B.C.
After his legal assistant resigned unexpectedly in November 2017, another accountant was hired and came across the accounting irregularities. There were also instances of missing cash reported.
“Doroshenko no longer employs the individuals involved,” said the law society. Once the legal assistant resigned, Doroshenko said cash in his Richmond office no longer went missing.
Difficulty concentrating on work
The lawyer said he suffered a concussion and injury to his elbows, tailbone, and back treated with prescribed medications that interfered with his sleep in 2016 and 2018.
His ability to work was compromised by pain, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and permanent vision impairment in his right eye.
According to the law society, no clients were harmed by his misconduct nor did Doroshenko benefit from any of the administrative mistakes.
The lawyer specializes in defending people arrested under the Motor Vehicle Act and does not have a prior record of professional misconduct. He founded Acumen in 2008 and was appointed to the Queen’s counsel in 2017.
Doroshenko’s two-month suspension begins June 21.
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.