B.C. lawyer suspended for ethical breach

A lawyer has been suspended for breaching ethical standards in September 2005 while he was acting for a couple selling their property.

The Law Society of British Columbia has suspended Gerhard Schauble of Kelowna, B.C., for four months and issued $10,000 in costs to be paid by Aug. 1, 2012.

The breach occurred when the couple had a dispute over the division of proceeds from the sale and Schauble offered to mediate. In siding with the male client, Schauble reduced his legal fees without telling the female client. He later repaid her.

According to the law society decision, Schauble “received net sale proceeds of approximately $451,390.31 on [the couple’s] behalf, but failed to provide an accurate account in writing to [the female client] of the disbursement of those funds to her, in that he failed to disclose that he had reduced the amount of legal fees payable by [the male client], contrary to Rule 3-48 of the Law Society Rules.”

He also did not get consent from the female client to act as the couple’s mediator.

The law society panel also said “a person might reasonably find it difficult to determine whether [Schauble] was acting as a lawyer or a mediator, contrary to Chapter 7, Rule 6 of the Professional Conduct Handbook.”

In addition, the panel noted this was not Schauble’s first ethical breach. According to the ruling, he “was previously cited for knowingly or intentionally misappropriating funds. On October 2, 2009 the panel hearing that citation ordered that [Schauble] be suspended for three months commencing December 1, 2009 and pay costs in the amount of $32,000.”

Update June 28, 2012: After selling his law practice, Schauble completed his suspension in early 2012 and has since returned to active practice as in-house counsel for a number of companies.

At the moment, his main focus is on a company he founded, GES Aviation. The company aims to develop electric hybrid propulsion systems that would allow smaller aircraft to take off and land in pure electric mode, and match the performance of internal combustion engines in hybrid mode.

“It’s an exciting place to be right now. We’re probably the only company in Canada right now that’s doing this,” Schauble tells Legal Feeds.

He also runs GES Group, a consulting firm with a focus on mergers and acquisitions.

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