The Practise of Law or The Neglect of It: You Be The Judge

Defined by The Oxford Dictionary, to practise means: To actively pursue or be engaged in (a particular profession or occupation) as in ‘he began to practise law’. In contrast, the antonym of practise is idleness, inaction, or inactivity.

The below excerpt is from a letter I sent to opposing Counsel this week, a junior lawyer who has a family law practice at a large firm here in London, Ontario (the names have been changed to protect the identity of the clients):

It was with great disappointment that I read your letter dated February 16, 2017. I wrote to you on July 5, 2016 in anticipation of the renewal of the mortgage scheduled to occur on August 17th, and I set a timeline of August 3rd for your response. Despite my follow up letter dated August 12, 2016, you chose not to reply until September 9th.

I then wrote to you on October 7, 2016 to finalize our disclosure and to address custody and support. You chose to not reply.

I wrote to you again on December 6, 2016 to seek your response to that letter and to urge you to return the pension valuation forms provided to you on October 7th. I enclosed an updated pay stub, again in an effort to move this matter toward settlement. You returned the signed pension forms with your letter dated December 16, 2016, but you chose to not respond to any of the issues raised in my correspondence.

In good faith, despite those delays, Mr. Jacobson has been paying $1,300.00 per month for the mortgage payment, plus $180.00 per month for insurance, all without tax relief. He ran short of funds this month and arranged in advance with the mortgagee to miss one payment, which any mortgagor is allowed to do once per year. Unfortunately, this arrangement was not relayed properly within the company, and a letter addressed to Mr. Jacobson was sent to the matrimonial home and opened by Ms. Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson is in the process of sorting this out with the mortgagee.

After ignoring our efforts to resolve this case since July, I was very disappointed to receive “urgent” correspondence from you on Thursday February 16, 2017 seeking my reply the very next day.

Nevertheless, in good faith I have enclosed Mr. Jacobson’s final pay stub for 2016. You will see that his income was $64,209.34. I acknowledge the statement contained in your letter that you are now ready to prepare a draft separation agreement regarding all issues except property for my review and comment.

Please recall that in my letter to you dated October 7, 2016, I proposed to retain Ms. Colleen O’Brien of Practical Solutions for a vocational assessment, with an adjustment to the equalization payment to reflect Ms. Jacobson’s share of that expense. We have to determine if it is reasonable for Ms. Jacobson to subsist on CPP benefits only.

I trust that you will review each of the points contained in my previous letters with Ms. Jacobson, copies of which are attached for your convenience.

I respectfully submit to my readers that this is not how you practise family  law, this is how you neglect it. If you hired this lawyer to help solve the problems arising from your separation, would you consider him or her part of the solution or part of the problem?

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