Canada News

B.C. lawyer overseeing professional standards at society suspended for faking expense claims

Former professional practices lawyer suspended for faking expense claims. (File photo)

By Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/North Island Gazette

A lawyer overseeing professional standards at the Law Society of B.C. has been suspended for falsifying expenses.

Kenseelan Gouden was given a 16-month suspension connected to his tenure as CEO of the Courthouse Libraries Society, according to a decision issued Feb. 16 by the Law Society’s Disciplinary Committee. 

Gouden has been directed to pay $5,326.25. His suspension begins March 1. 

The infractions happened between 2017 and 2018. When confronted by his employer in 2018, Gouden admitted to submitting false, inflated and duplicated expense claims.

He resigned as CEO and paid back over $4,000 he had wrongfully claimed. Another 26 improper claims came to light after this.

Among the falsified claims were several for trips not related to work, receipts modified to have higher values and some knowingly duplicated expenses.

The matter was referred to the Law Society’s Discipline Committee for a hearing, which was held in October 2020.

The committee received character letters from Gouden’s colleagues and expert opinions from doctors who treated him. His psychologists did not consider Gouden to be at risk for re-offending, instead recommending continued therapy and high level of supervision.

Personal references spoke of Gouden’s “remorse for his misconduct and efforts to rehabilitate himself,” adding that the behaviour was “utterly out of character,” and argued he is “an effective lawyer worth saving.”

He has been a lawyer in good standing for 27 years with no prior disciplinary action.

When he resumes law practice, Gouden will be subject to a supervision agreement and is not allowed to operate a trust account. He also will be required to continue psychotherapy.

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