Robidoux, a partner with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, was suspended May 26 by a law society panel after she admitted she had provided a National Post columnist — Don Martin (now host of CTV’s Power Play), with damaging information about former TV news reporter Arthur Kent. At the time, Kent was running for the provincial Tories.
Kent says he also has complaints filed against Postmedia counsel Scott Watson of Parlee McLaws LLP and Sabri Shawa, firm chairperson of Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes LLP, who was his first lawyer in his case against Martin. He alleges both sought to cover up Robidoux’s role in the events.
When contacted to confirm the investigations are underway, a spokesperson for the law society said: “Under the Legal Profession Act complaints filed against lawyers are confidential because they are unproven allegations. Therefore, we are unable to disclose whether or not Mr. Watson or Mr. Shawa are in our conduct process.”
Legal Feeds was unable to reach Shawa or Watson for comment.
Last week, Robidoux resigned from Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP after the law society suspended her. It found her to have breached client confidentiality in 2008 when she was acting as legal counsel to Kent’s campaign team.
Kent filed a complaint to the law society against Robidoux in July 2011 and maintained a web site dedicated to his battle with her. The law society completed its investigation in June 2012. The hearing took place last week.
“I’m grateful to the prosecutor at the law society hearing. I think he took the very limited citations put forward and embraced a good deal of the evidence I tabled,” says Kent. “One has to ask why Ms Robidoux, for six years and for three years during my complaint against her to the Law Society of Alberta, did steadfastly deny the facts she has now admitted.”
Lawyers have a broad duty of confidentiality to their client, says Alice Woolley, associate dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Law.
“As his lawyer, she owed him a strong duty of confidentiality. You have a duty to all information learned during the course of representation even if it’s in the public domain and even if it doesn’t relate to the person’s legal affairs,” says Woolley.
Woolley says the law society should have acted more quickly than it did in handling Kent’s complaint.
“While it is unfortunate it took as long as it did, in the end the law society reached an appropriate result given the nature of the misconduct,” says Woolley.
In a statement, the law society of Alberta responded to questions about the length of time the investigation took: “The Law Society operates under the mandate of the Legal Profession Act and a code of conduct for lawyers in Alberta. The disciplinary processes we administer are run in a manner similar to civil or criminal cases in the courts. As such, it takes time to ensure that justice is properly and fairly administered. In cases where the law society is going to recommend prosecution of a lawyer, a comprehensive process is involved to collect the necessary information and evidence, which can often require many months, even years, to review and prepare before it is put before a conduct hearing panel.”