Tuesday, May 17 2011
She is a named defendant in an $8 million conspiracy and defamation lawsuit, and will soon face review by the Law Society of Alberta for allegedly breaching 23 separate provisions of the Society’s Code of Professional Conduct. * (see below)
But Kristine Robidoux, Q.C. shows a very different profile to the public on the worldwide web.
Online, she proclaims high ethical standards while promoting her services in rooting out corruption and zealously protecting clients’ private information.
Robidoux, Q.C. currently hangs her e-shingle as a partner at one of Canada’s biggest law firms, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, known simply as Gowlings.
The Gowlings website describes Kristine Robidoux, Q.C. as a “Global Business Integrity Lawyer” specializing in “domestic and international anti-bribery and corruption laws, privacy and data protection…and business ethics.”
Robidoux, Q.C. appears for public viewing on YouTube in an infomercial in which she introduces herself as a member of the “Business Ethics and Anti-Corruption Practice Group”.
She says: “the worst mistake that a company could make when they learn of a potential corrupt act or other wrongdoing within their organization is to do nothing.”
She recommends “a robust, credible, independent internal investigation. Make sure evidence is being preserved, make sure whatever behaviour had been going on is stopped…”
Although somewhat halting in delivery, Robidoux appears earnest and sincere, not unlike her deportment when she pledged to this former client: “I’m your lawyer. You can trust me.”
This was in a face to face meeting at my campaign headquarters early in the 2008 Alberta general election. Robidoux, Q.C. had accepted the dual roles as my Legal Counsel and Official Agent. She came highly recommended by other lawyers on our team.
Yet just a few days after pledging her loyalty, our campaign was attacked by anonymous sources in an article published by Canada’s largest newspaper chain.
Sixteen months later, one of the unnamed sources was revealed by former National Post employee Don Martin to be none other than Kristine Robidoux, Q.C.
For years, Robidoux’s career profile has been marked by swift upward mobility, aided by her many close links within the hierarchy of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party.
She served as a “contract portfolio officer” for the PC government’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. Later, she was an extremely active board member of Legal Aid Alberta, an independent agency created jointly by the Law Society and Alberta’s Attorney General, and accountable to the Justice Minister.
Robidoux also received an appointment to the post of Justice of the Peace. Public records show she earned $64,587 from the Alberta Justice & Attorney General’s department in the 2007/2008 budget year.
In December of 2007, the same month she agreed to serve my campaign team as Legal Counsel and Official Agent, Robidoux was awarded the patronage title of Queen’s Counsel: “Her Majesty’s Counsel, learned in the law.”
Some months after the 2008 election, it was reported in The Alberta Gazette that Robidoux, Q.C. had resigned as a Justice of the Peace.
At the same time, the sole practitioner was reported by the Canadian Bar Association in Alberta to have “merged” her ComplianceWorks firm with Gowling Lafleur Henderson. As well, she became a full partner in Gowlings.
In July of 2010, Robidoux, Q.C. stepped down from her duties at Legal Aid Alberta. It had become widely known in Calgary legal circles that she was on the list to receive an appointment to the Provincial Court bench.
Indications were that Kristine Robidoux, Q.C. was to be named a judge.
The appointment, however, was not included in Justice Minister Alison Redford’s announcement of judicial appointees in October, 2010.
Since then, Robidoux, Q.C. has continued to make high profile appearances as an expert in ethics and anti-corruption practices.
In November of 2010, she served as Chair of a conference on “anti-bribery and corruption compliance” at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
Two months earlier, in September, 2010, Robidoux, Q.C. moderated a discussion group on “due diligence as a preventative measure…a component of best practices” at the 8th Annual Anti-Corruption Conference of the International Bar Association in Prague.
It was while Robidoux, Q.C. was in the Czech Republic that she received word that this former client had applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary to have her joined as a defendant in Kent v. Martin, National Post et al.
It should be stressed that Robidoux, Q.C. was not a partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP during the events at issue in the litigation. However the policies of her current firm are highly instructive on the basics of solicitor-client privilege. The privacy section, entitled: “Policy on the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information” states:
“Consistent with our obligations as professionals, we are dedicated to maintaining high standards of confidentiality with respect to the information that has been provided to us…
“Our obligations as legal professionals are governed, in part, by the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern each of our professionals as members of Law Societies…
“… all information concerning the business and affairs of a person or organization acquired…in the course of a professional relationship shall be held in strict confidence and not revealed to anyone unless expressly or implicitly authorized by the person or organization concerned.”
* * *
* Quoting from the Plaintiff’s Brief of Argument, heard before Justice Dallas K. Miller, February 10, 2011 in the Court of Queen’s Bench, Calgary, and referring to the alleged misconduct of Kristine Robidoux, Q.C.:
69. This is not a case of an alleged minor misstep on the part of a lawyer…the evidence before the Court demonstrates arguable potential violations of each of the following rules in the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Professional Conduct:
1. A lawyer must respect and uphold the law in personal conduct and in rendering advice and assistance to others. (Ch.1, R.1)
2. A lawyer must not act in a manner that might weaken public respect for the law or justice system or interfere with its fair administration. (Ch.1, R.3)
3. A lawyer must be courteous and candid in dealings with others. (Ch.1, R.6)
4. A lawyer’s position must not be used to take unfair advantage of any person or situation.
5. A lawyer must refrain from personal or professional conduct that brings discredit to the profession. (Ch.3, R.1)
6. A lawyer must not act for more than one party in a conflict or potential conflict situation unless all such parties consent and it is in the best interests of the parties that the lawyer so act. (Ch.6, R.2)
7. A lawyer must not act when there is a conflict or potential conflict between lawyer and client unless the client consents and it is in the client’s best interests that the lawyer so act. (Ch.6, R.7)
8. A lawyer must not act personally in a matter when the lawyer’s objectivity is impaired to the extent that the lawyer would be unable to properly and competently carry out the representation. (Ch.6, R.8)
9. A lawyer must not disclose any confidential information regardless of its source and whether or not it is a matter of public record. (Ch.7, R.1)
10. A lawyer must continue to hold a client’s information in confidence despite conclusion of the matter or termination of the lawyer/client relationship.
11. A lawyer who possesses confidential information of a client or former client: (a) must not use such information for the lawyer’s personal benefit nor the benefit of a firm member or a related person or affiliated entity of the lawyer… (Ch.7, R.6)
12. When acting for more than one party in the same matter, a lawyer must disclose to all such parties any material confidential information acquired by the lawyer in the course of the representation and relating to the matter in question.
(Ch.7, R.8 – (d)
(Ch.7, R.8 – (d)
13. A lawyer must not lie to or mislead a client. (Ch.9, R.1)
14. A lawyer must not render advice in situations in which the independence of the lawyer’s professional judgment is impaired. (Ch.9, R.3)
15. A lawyer must obtain instructions from the client on all matters not falling within the express or implied authority of the lawyer. (Ch.9, R.5)
16. A lawyer must keep a client informed as to the progress of the client’s matter. (Ch.9, R.14)
17. A lawyer must promptly inform the client of any material error or omission in connection with the lawyer’s representation irrespective of whether it is capable of rectification. (Ch.9, R.18)
18. A lawyer must not mislead the court nor assist a client or witness to do so. (Ch.10, R.13)
19. Upon becoming aware that the court is under a misapprehension as a result of submissions made by the lawyer or evidence given by the lawyer’s client or witness, a lawyer must (subject to confidentiality) immediately correct the misapprehension. (Ch.10, R.15)
20. A lawyer’s representations to the court concerning the facts of a case must be limited to representations supported by the evidence. (Ch.10, R.17 – (a)
21. A lawyer must withdraw upon reasonable notice to the client when: (d) the lawyer’s continued employment would violate the lawyer’s obligations with respect to conflict of interest.
22. When there may be confusion as to the capacity in which a lawyer is acting, the lawyer must ensure that such capacity is made as clear as possible to anyone with whom the lawyer deals. (Ch.15, R.1)
23. A lawyer’s conduct in an activity other than the practice of law must be compatible with the best interests of the profession and the justice system. (Ch.15, R.2)