A disbarred lawyer who practised in Dubai and Newport Village failed to get back into the Law Society of B.C., following a recent tribunal decision.
Following a stint at Newport Law in Port Moody, lawyer Nida Chaudhry opened Infinite Law in 2012. As the sole practitioner, Chaudhry intentionally misappropriated money, according to the decision written by tribunal chair Chelsea D. Wilson.
Chaudhry made 13 withdrawals totaling $6,154 from her trust account when she wasn’t entitled to the funds, frequently using the money for personal and business expenses. On three occasions, Chaudhry made payments out of trust “in purported payment of fees” when she either hadn’t rendered the service or in an amount higher than billed.
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The misconduct was found out “during a routine compliance audit,” according to the decision.
Over an approximately 20-month span, Chaudhry made 62 withdrawals when there were insufficient funds held in trust. Frequently, Chaudhry made the withdrawals to pay her own accounts.
This resulted in trust shortages, some of which weren’t reported to the Law Society and weren’t squared for 674 days.
The shortages weren’t immediately entitled “apparently because [Chaudhry] did not maintain appropriate and required accounting records,” according to the decision.
Chaudhry used her own money to make full restitution.
After being disbarred in 2018, Chaudhry initially applied for Law Society reinstatement six weeks later.
“At the time she did not intend to return to British Columbia to practise law. Rather, she sought reinstatement for purposes of her employment in Dubai. “
However, Chaudhry left that application in abeyance until January 2021. She had received a job offer from Vancouver lawyer Robert Monterio, pending her reinstatement.
Monterio supported her reinstatement, attributing most of her troubles to not hiring “a proper legal bookkeeper and accountant,” in a letter on her behalf.
“I believe if Ms. Chaudhry is given a second chance, she will fully comply with the rules, laws and guidelines of our profession. I also believe Ms. Chaudhry, despite her admitted flaws, to be a person of honesty and good character,” he wrote.
Early in the reinstatement hearing, Chaudhry contended her misconduct “did not involve dishonesty.”
This constitutes “a very different and contradictory view of past misconduct she admitted,” Wilson wrote.
Previously, during the discipline panel’s finding, Chaudhry admitted to committing “intentional misappropriation.”
While acknowledging Chaudhry purged her guilt, showed genuine remorse has matured since the misconduct, Wilson emphasized how hard it is hard to regain the privilege to practise law.
“Public confidence in the legal profession is more important than the fortunes of any one lawyer,” Wilson wrote.
Ultimately, her bid for reinstatement was rejected.
“After considering all of the evidence, we conclude that granting [Chaudhry] reinstatement on conditions would not provide an adequate level of public protection,” Wilson concluded.