Former Kamloops lawyer disbarred for misappropriating clients' money

Seanna Michelle McKinley also attempted to mislead the Law Society of B.C. audit by providing false information

A former Kamloops lawyer has been disbarred for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients.

In its decision posted Feb. 14, the Law Society of B.C. ruled that Seanna Michelle McKinley committed four separate instances of professional misconduct, including misappropriating a total of $334,593.77 from her pooled client trust account by withdrawing funds on more than 500 separate occasions.

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McKinley was also found to have misappropriated $49,000 from the trust of one of her clients in 2014.

The law society said McKinley later tried to mislead the Law Society auditors by providing them with false information, including a heavily redacted client account ledger.

“She further attempted to mislead law-society compliance auditors by, among other acts, preparing 528 backdated bills and 447 backdated cover letters, creating 480 backdated electronic transfer forms, and stating that she did not operate her own trust account when she knew the statement was false,” the ruling said of McKinley, who was suspended by the Law Society on April 11, 2016, before being kicked out the next year for non-payment of fees.

McKinley, who had been a lawyer since 2001 and worked at a Kamloops firm, didn’t attend her Oct. 8, 2019, disciplinary hearing and failed to reply to three caution letters from the Law Society, informing her the hearing would proceed either with or without her.

The Law Society said it has received no communication from McKinley since January 2018.

“She has failed to participate in the Law Society’s disciplinary process, nor has she provided any supportive evidence pertaining to her character or the circumstances of her four instances of professional misconduct,” the ruling stated.

“Consequently, there is no evidence to indicate that her misconduct was an aberration and unlikely to recur. To the contrary, the law society’s investigation uncovered a pattern of serious, deliberate and dishonest conduct over a lengthy period of time.”

Along with disbarment, McKinley was ordered to pay $12,743 to the Law Society of B.C.

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