Appeal court grants shorter jail sentence to disbarred Edmonton lawyer

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A disbarred Edmonton lawyer has been granted a partial reprieve by Alberta’s highest court.

In February, former lawyer Shawn Beaver was sentenced to one year in jail after being found guilty of civil contempt. Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke found Beaver had practiced law after he was disbarred and in breach of court orders, using a junior lawyer as a “false front.”

The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld Beaver’s conviction in a decision released Thursday, but sentenced him instead to 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends.

The court found Rooke was wrong not to take into account Beaver’s “personal circumstances, character, current lifestyle, promise to change his behaviour, and the effect of imprisonment on his family.”

“We conclude that this term of incarceration is out of the range that should be considered reasonable and proper for Mr. Beaver’s civil contempt,” the three-judge panel wrote.


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Beaver was a high-profile criminal defence lawyer who graduated at the top of his class at the University of Alberta law school. At the time of Rooke’s decision, Beaver was an instructor at CDI College in Edmonton.

In May 2015, the Law Society of Alberta suspended Beaver’s membership pending a probe of potential financial misconduct. It eventually issued 12 citations against him over a $180,000 shortfall in his trust account.

After his suspension, Beaver began to offer his services as a “legal agent” through a website called Beaver Legal Consulting. In late 2015, he signed a document agreeing to refrain from providing such services.

In January 2016, the law society learned Beaver was once again practicing law and successfully sought a court injunction barring him from providing “any legal services to any person.” He was found in civil contempt of the injunction that August and, after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of misappropriating client trust funds, disbarred hm in February 2017.

The law society called Beaver’s misconduct “the most serious of cases,” saying he targeted “vulnerable persons” and actively covered up his misconduct.

Beaver once again found his way onto the law society’s radar in 2018, when it learned Beaver was once again providing legal services, this time through junior lawyer Clipo Florence Jura. Rooke said Beaver “clandestinely” practiced law through late 2019 —  a period of six months during which he was involved in at least seven cases.


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“Mr. Beaver exploited the junior lawyer both by bringing her into his illegal scheme and then directing her to conceal his illegal activities,” the appeal court wrote. Jura was later suspended and ultimately disbarred. “He destroyed incriminating evidence that could be used against him in an attempt cover up what he had done, and laid a trail of false evidence.”

Beaver said he believed the injunction barring him from providing legal services expired when he was disbarred. He argued he was merely offering “tutoring” services to Jura and insisted that it was “high time … to seek clarity on jobs that I could do” that “utilize my knowledge and experience.”

Rooke wrote, “It appears to me, that in the absence of a successful application for reinstatement, Mr. Beaver is not getting the message that any practice of law is over.”

The associate chief justice added that he did not buy Beaver’s apology to the court.

“He does not regret having post-2015 continued his clandestine and illegal practice of law. He merely regrets getting caught. Mr. Beaver knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway.”

Rooke gave little if any weight to Beaver’s claim that he had turned over a new leaf following an “epiphany” in the summer of 2020 while watching his daughters sleep, “when he realized he was putting his family in peril.”

But the appeal court said Rooke was wrong to “wholly reject” such evidence.

“These are mitigating factors that are accepted every day in the criminal courts and are taken into account during sentencing,” the appeal court wrote.

Beaver was released from jail pending appeal. He has been ordered to report to jail May 14 to serve his first weekend. The appeal court awarded him 10 days credit, leaving 80 left to serve. He has also been ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.


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