The Law Society Tribunal has dismissed high-profile misconduct applications against Kenora, Ontario lawyer Douglas Keshen after approximately seven weeks of trial between June 2016 and April 2017. Daniel Naymark and Robin Parker were co-counsel for Mr. Keshen.
The Law Society had levelled several hundred allegations against Mr. Keshen, including failing to competently serve dozens Indian Residential School survivor clients whom he had represented on claims for compensation for abuse. The Tribunal converted the proceedings to an invitation to attend, and commented approvingly on Mr. Keshen's and the Law Society's agreement to participate in community-based circles with affected Indigenous communities.
The Law Society had initially sought revocation of Mr. Keshen’s license. With the dismissal of the applications, Mr. Keshen maintains his clean discipline record and hopes to be able to restore his reputation and practice in the wake of such sensitive public allegations. The Tribunal’s reasons are available here.
This was the second of two related proceedings in which Daniel and Robin successfully represented Mr. Keshen. The first involved a Court-ordered investigation of rumours that Mr. Keshen had stolen funds. The investigation found that those rumours were untrue. Justice Perrell’s resulting reasons for decision are available here.
In a statement, Daniel and Robin said:
We sincerely hope the communities in northwestern Ontario will accept these decisions. Mr. Keshen is not an exploiter of Residential School survivors. Just the opposite. As the Tribunal recognized in its ruling, he is “deeply committed to the First Nations communities and individuals he serves and helps with their lives and issues in a way that goes beyond the specific legal problems they retain him for.” He has been working on behalf of these communities for the past 40 years.
It has been an honour for us as counsel to participate in a case that takes a small step towards honouring Indigenous culture and practices as part of our justice system.