Ottawa Attorney James Bowie suspended indefinitely from practicing law

The suspension is unrelated to the Law Society of Ontario’s investigation into an alleged legal services scandal.

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Ottawa attorney James Bowie, who is being investigated by the Law Society of Ontario over an alleged legal services scandal, has been suspended indefinitely from practicing law after failing to cooperate in three separate cases.

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Born in 1983, the solitary practitioner was suspended on Friday for professional misconduct in the independent cases. Law Society Tribunal Chairman Murray Chitra ordered Bowie to immediately cease practicing law until he had fully and adequately responded to the complaints. (Some past customers complained about lousy service, poor communication, and being haunted when they asked for a refund.)

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Bowie also practiced law while he was suspended in 2022. Bowie has had several short-term administrative suspensions, according to an affidavit from a bar investigator.

Before Friday’s tribunal, Ottawa attorney Kathleen Kealey presented her client Bowie as a victim of the pandemic, who has suffered professionally and personally. Bowie’s very limited legal practice has suffered and he is on medical treatment, Kealey told the tribunal.

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Bowie is remorseful and finally wants to cooperate with the bar association’s investigation. Kealey also said that Bowie is passionate about the law and his professional misconduct sentence will have significant repercussions.

Bowie spoke briefly at the hearing, saying, “I want to apologize for taking up the tribunal’s time.”

Bowie also said Kealey is a good lawyer and a good friend.

In the joint position authorized by the Chairman, Bowie accepted responsibility for professional misconduct and is suspended indefinitely until he cooperates with the investigation. If he responds in a manner deemed fair and reasonable by the Bar Association court, he will be suspended for one month. The indefinite suspension is intended as an incentive for him to play with the bar as every Ontario attorney must.

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In the penalty phase of Friday’s hearing, bar association attorney Chad Skinner told the tribunal’s chairman the sanction was justified to maintain public confidence in the legal profession.

Chairman Chitra signed the joint position and ordered Bowie to pay $5,000 in legal fees. He has one year to pay.

While those complaints have been the subject of disciplinary proceedings, Bowie is now awaiting the results of a further Bar Association investigation.

Except this time it’s not about bad service, but rather disturbing allegations that Bowie offered legal services for sex, invited the client to grind cocaine at his glebe, and then sent her an unsolicited picture of his penis.

The woman has since hired criminal justice specialist Michael Spratt, who filed the complaint with the bar on her behalf, this newspaper reported earlier this month. The complaint to the bar included attachments of Snapchat messages between Bowie and his then-client, as well as a screenshot of an unwanted image of his penis.

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In a cover letter accompanying the Bar Association’s complaint, Spratt said: “(The Complainant) is extremely upset and traumatized by the absolutely disgusting behavior of Mr. Bowie.

“These predatory acts violated several professional rules and were deeply harmful and offensive,” Spratt wrote to the Bar Association. “[She]fears retribution given Mr. Bowie’s profile.”

Bowie has yet to file a response to the Bar Association’s latest investigation, but an hour and a half after this newspaper reported on it last week, Bowie went live on social platform Discord to defend himself. Bowie publicly dismissed his former client as a broke single mother.

Bowie said his former client fabricated the allegations to avoid paying her bill.

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Bowie also acknowledged that the Bar Association is investigating him, saying: “I need to give the Bar Association a written response explaining all of this and they will conduct their investigation and decide what they want to do.

“In the meantime, everyone’s mad at me and I’m losing friends,” Bowie said online.

On the social platform Discord, Bowie referred to the Snapchat messages in question. He said he was only flirting with his client and also detailed his theory on the allegations.

“What happened here is that she (Ottawa attorney Michael) tells Spratt a sobbing story to avoid paying her bill,” Bowie said.

While Bowie took to the social platform to defend himself, he has yet to respond to this newspaper after multiple requests for comment.

Defending himself online, Bowie said the independent cases were boring accounting problems. He said it took him too long to provide documents to investigators at the Bar Association because he was “honestly taking the wrong medication.”

(Bowie says he suffers from “long Covid”, according to court documents.)

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