BREAKING NEWS: Law Society Tribunal of Ontario reprimands “most positively reviewed” Toronto lawyer Lior Samfiru, who faces additional misconduct allegations in Alberta

By Julius Melnitzer | June 10, 2024

The Law Society Tribunal of Ontario has reprimanded Lior Samfiru, the Toronto-based national co-managing partner of employment law boutique Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, a firm that claims to be the “most positively reviewed in the country”, and ordered him to pay $5,0000 in costs. The Tribunal found that Samfiru “engaged in professional misconduct by failing to discharge all of his responsibilities honourably and with integrity, and communicating in a manner that was abusive, offensive, or otherwise inconsistent with the proper tone of a professional communication from a lawyer, in connection with litigation that was threatened or commenced against three former clients”. Samfiru acknowledged his misconduct and apologized in writing.

Although the firm has more than 1,500 five-star reviews on Google, the CBC points out thatf documents filed in the hearing “suggest that at least part of the reason for [the firm’s] 4.9 star rating is that [Samfiru] vigilantly policed some of the negative reviews that cropped up”. In one of the cases that gave rise to the reprimand, a client posted a negative review after a consultation with one of the firm’s junior lawyers. That lawyer offered to refund the $339 he had billed her. But Samfiru made the refund conditional on the client removing the review, threatening to sue her for defamation unless the review “is deleted by 5 PM today”. A follow-up message stated: “5 PM. Not a minute later.”

In one of the other complaints behind the reprimand, Samfiru had his firm sue a client for $1,500 in fees plus $15,000 for “negligent misrepresentation” and $50,000 in punitives. She had refused to pay the bill because the firm gave her mistaken advice that she was entitled to more vacation pay from her employer. In his communications with the lawyers defending the negligent misrepresentation claims, Samfiru threatened to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court and predicted that the client “will incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees”. In a victim impact statement, the client stated that she felt bullied and that the firm’s lawsuit was “an abuse of power”.

A third case arose from an anonymous negative review that a client posted after the firm would not file a lawsuit on a contingency-fee basis. Samfiru then offered free legal advice, only to have the client post another negative review later. Samfiru then threatened the client with a lawsuit causing the client to “go through thousands of dollars in fees” if he didn’t delete the review.

The CBC has also discovered two claims launched by Samfiru Tumarkin against clients in the last three years: one over fees and one over a negative review. The total damages claimed in those cases was $420,000.

Samfiru still faces professional misconduct accusations in Alberta, where the Law Society of Alberta alleges that he improperly failed to promptly transfer a client’s file when her lawyer left the firm; attempted to influence the complainant to withdraw her complaint; and failed “to act honourably and with integrity”. One of the allegations is that he “attempted to influence” a client to withdraw a disciplinary complaint. None of the allegations in Alberta have been proven.

Julius Melnitzer is a Toronto-based legal affairs writer, ghostwriter, writing coach and media trainer. Readers can reach him at [email protected] or https://legalwriter.net/contact.

Related Article: “Most positively reviewed” lawyer faces new misconduct allegations

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