Friday, April 17, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I believe the public has the right to know who is paying Mr. Jason Gratl's legal fees. Gratl is a lawyer who represents the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA). I doubt he is doing thousands and thousands of work for DERA pro bono (free of charge) and at the behest of DERA members who wish to remain anonymous, I put this question to Mr. Gratl this afternoon.

Mr Gratl of course said to me that he is bound by solicitor/client privilege and he could not answer this question. Not being a lawyer, I asked Mr Gratl whether this solicitor client privilege extends to groups who are publicly funded of which DERA is. Mr Gratl said, " my dear you obviously don't have any understanding of law do you".

My initial response to Mr. Gratl was that I was not his dear!

Of course Mr Gratl's response was bang on. How intuitive of him. I wonder if it ever occured to him that's why I was asking a lawyer the question in the first place?

Readers may be aware that DERA just recently received a significant grant from the Law Foundation. One of the largest grants, longtime lawyer Mr.Don Morrison says he has seen given out in quite some time.

It is interesting that the Law Foundation issued this grant considering DERA has been engaging in criminal activities and its executive director was recently refuted by a Judge for lying under oath.

The Law Foundation receives the interest on lawyer's trust accounts and these interest funds are given to organizations who apply for these law foundation grants. In the case of DERA, this is supposed to be used for advocacy purposes for the poor.

I asked Mr Gratl if there were any ethical issues especially if DERA was providing his legal fees from this law foundation grant. He refused to answer. Given that DERA has been getting into trouble with the law as a result of their own wrongdoing and criminality makes this issue even more interesting from an ethical standpoint.

Mr. Gratl's response was this: " this issue is obviously fertile in the mind of Jamie Lee Hamilton only ".

Obviously Mr. Gratl doesn't seem to think this matter to be serious and he actually trivializes it. Is it any wonder why lawyers are increasingly held in such disdain by the public?

I think though the questions put to Mr Gratl are fair.

It seems questionable that a lawyer would take money earmarked for the poor, to fatten his own pocketbook and we will not know if Gratl is guilty of this since he won't answer these fair questions.

I think this issue does go to the heart of ethics in the professions, however, I'm not surprised at the response from a lawyer who has represented the likes of pedophiles and drug traffickers.

Jamie Lee Hamilton