Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex, and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession.


294 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-670-06504-2
DDC 340.092'271





Alexander David Kurke is a criminal lawyer in Sudbury, Ontario.


Author Philip Slayton offers up case studies of lawyerly misconduct in 14 succinct chapters, with introductory and concluding chapters. Stories of theft and fraud predominate, though money laundering and sexual misconduct also receive attention. Slayton often struggles to find explanations other than the obvious to account for terrible things that lawyers do. The result is not knowledge, but melancholy, as the deeper answers do not come.


Slayton is also critical of provincial law societies for failures in self-government and disparate treatment of members. In his concluding Chapter 16, Slayton argues for the creation of an independent body to regulate the legal profession, the better to protect consumers. A few examples will give a flavour of the whole.


Throughout, Slayton desperately hunts for the root causes of misconduct. Thus, it cannot simply be greed that caused Daniel Cooper (Chapter 3) to overbill his clients more than $200,000, since he earned so much from his practice. The logical extension of such reasoning is that the well-to-do do not steal or commit fraud, because they have no need to do so. Experience teaches otherwise.


Ingrid Chen (Chapter 4) was convicted of conspiring to break U.S. immigration laws and attempting extortion. Slayton attributes to Chen “spectacularly bad judgment,” but goes on to ponder whether Chen simply lacked “a sense of the values underpinning the Canadian legal system,” and asks “Did law school fail to teach her these?,” as though only in law school could a person find out that extortion is illegal.


Assistant Crown Agnew Johnson (Chapter 8) was convicted of offences involving underage prostitutes and of assaulting a woman and breaching his bail and was disbarred. Slayton contrasts the Law Society’s finding that Johnston’s conduct was “abhorrent” with a supporter’s view of him as an “honourable, decent, caring individual,” and wonders which view was right, as though one must be wrong.


Those who enjoy such fare will want to sample this smorgasbord of ruined careers. The short chapters allow for brief spurts of reading, either on the bus or before shutting off the bedside lamp.


Slayton, Philip., “Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex, and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,