Monthly Archives: October 2011

Law Firm’s Contact With Both Sides in Illinois Divorce Case Results in a “Scary” Denial of all Attorney’s Fees

Happy Halloween and welcome to this “scary” JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Alert will discuss an Illinois appeals court case that addresses the scary area of conflicts of interest in family law cases.  In an October 14, 2011 opinion, an Illinois appellate court affirmed the trail court which found that a law firm which represented the wife in a divorce after initially consulting with the husband had a conflict of interest which voided its fee agreement with the wife from the outset and; therefore, the law firm forfeited all fees. The case is:  In re Marriage of Newton, Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist., No. 1-09-0683, 6/30/11 (published 10/14/11).

David Newton filed a motion to disqualify attorney David J. Grund and the law firm Grund & Leavitt from representing his wife Hadley Newton in their divorce action in 2007.  After hearings, the trial court subsequently disqualified the lawyer and the law firm, concluding that Grund had previously represented Mr. Newton in the same matter.  According to the court’s order, Mr. Newton had met the lawyer at his law office for one or two hours and discussed his impending divorce, children, and financial situation.

The lawyer testified that he told Mr. Newton at the meeting that the representation would not begin unless he actually signed a contract; that no attorney-client privilege would attach during their meeting; and that Newton should not disclose anything to him that could not appear in the public record. The lawyer also testified that he did not believe that Mr. Newton would actually hire him, that he couldn’t recall anything that Mr. Newton told him, and that he didn’t take any notes.  The lawyer subsequently was retained by Ms. Newton and represented her in the divorce proceedings.  She testified that when she approached the lawyer, he told her there was a conflict of interest but that he agreed to represent her despite the conflict and she later executed a fee agreement.

After hearing the evidence, the trial court concluded that both of the Newtons were credible and that Mr. Newton’s meeting with the lawyer created an attorney-client relationship that disqualified the firm from representing Hadley Newton in the divorce.  The court further found that the representation of Ms. Newton violated Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.9(a) which addresses conflicts of interest involving former clients; therefore, the law firm was disqualified and prohibited from collecting any fees for the services it had previously provided since the retainer agreement for Ms. Newton was void and unenforceable from its inception.  The law firm then appealed.

The Illinois appellate opinion held that the trial court correctly ruled that the law firm should be disqualified for violating Rule 1.9, particularly since both of the Newtons’ interests were so obviously in conflict.  The opinion noted that Illinois Rule 1.9(a) (which is substantially similar to Rule 4-1.9(a), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar) clearly states that a lawyer who has represented a client in a matter shall not take on a client in the same or a substantially related matter if the new client’s interests are materially adverse to those of the former client, unless the former client consents.

The opinion further found that, notwithstanding the lawyer’s disclaimers, Mr. Newton’s consultation with lawyer created an attorney-client relationship since he was seeking advice about his impending divorce.  Further, since the Newtons were adverse parties in the same case, there was clearly a substantial relationship between the two representations and, as a result of the lawyer’s meeting with Mr. Newton, an irrebuttable presumption was created that Mr. Newton shared confidential information with the lawyer and was sufficient grounds for the disqualification.

The appellate opinion also rejected the argument that the law firm was entitled to be paid for the services the firm provided before it was disqualified since the retainer agreement was void ab initio and unenforceable due to the conflict for reasons of public policy for the following reasons:

1) as a result of the Illinois Rule 1.9 violation, the law firm’s fee agreement with Ms. Newton was not a “contract which meets applicable requirements of court rules” as required by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

2)  the fee contract was void and unenforceable from its inception since it violated Illinois public policy which is set forth in Rule 1.9.  Further, case precedent indicated that attorneys’ fees should not be allowed if a lawyer is disqualified due to conflict of interest.

The court also rejected the law firm’s alternative argument that it was entitled to the fees since it acted in good faith since “purported good faith is irrelevant”.

Finally, the court also upheld a contempt order issued by the trial court against the lawyer for failing to step away from the bench when ordered to do so because the failure could not be justified as a good faith effort to secure “clarification of an uncertainty” since Rule 1.9 makes it abundantly clear that representing clients with conflicting interests is prohibited, the court said.

Bottom line:  As I have said many times, the practice of family law is fraught with potential peril with regard to potential (or actual) conflicts of interest and other issues.  In this case, the lawyer apparently thought he could make a blatant conflict go away by saying that there was no conflict.  As side note, current (and fairly recent) Florida Bar Rule 4-1.18 addresses the issue of conflict when one party attempts to consult with the lawyer and the lawyer (or law firm) declines the representation and is approached by the opposing party for representation.

…be very careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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Firm’s Restrictive Agreement With Opposing Party Created Non-Waivable Conflict of Interest Second Circuit Rules

Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Alert will discuss the recent United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals case which ruled that a law firm representing employees in discrimination claims had an non-waivable conflict when it entered into an agreement wherein Nextel would pay the law firm $2 million if the law firm could persuade the employees to drop their claims and agree to resolve their dispute under the terms and procedures set out in a Dispute Resolution and Settlement Agreement (DRSA).  The case is: Johnson v. Nextel Communications, ___F.3d___, 2011 WL 4436263 (2d Circuit, September 26, 2011).

In Johnson, employees of Nextel retained the defendant/law firm to bring employer discrimination claims against Nextel.  The law firm subsequently entered into the DRSA with Nextel.  Under the DRSA, Nextel was to pay $2 million the law firm if the firm could persuade the employees to drop their claims and agree to resolve the dispute under the terms and procedures set out in the agreement.  Nextel was required to pay additional amounts to the law firm contingent upon how quickly litigation progressed.

The DRSA also required that the employees be represented by the law firm throughout the litigation.  Interestingly enough, the agreement also required Nextel to retain the firm as a legal consultant for two years following resolution of the employees’ claims.  The value of the DRSA to the law firm was potentially $7.5 million.  The law firm provided an outline of the DRSA’s terms to the employees and asked them to agree to the DRSA’s terms.  The firm also simultaneously obtained conflict waivers from each client.  Some of the clients did not agree to the DRSA (and waiver) and the initial $2 million payment was reduced.

The employees later filed a lawsuit alleging, inter alia, breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and legal malpractice.  A U.S. District Court Judge granted the law firm’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.  On appeal, the Federal Second Circuit vacated the trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit and held that the DRSA created a non-waivable (unconsentable) conflict and was a breach of the fiduciary duty of the law firm to each of the clients.

The Second District’s opinion held that the clients could not consent to a waiver of the conflict for two reasons:  1) the class-protection provisions of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 did not apply and, 2) the law firm had a duty to represent the employees’ interests individually and not collectively.  The DRSA also created a clear incentive for the firm to handle its clients’ claims in the aggregate rather than individually and the additional incentives in the DRSA beyond the initial $2 million payment severely aggravated the already non-waivable conflict.  Finally, the conflict was non-waivable because it was too complex for the clients to give informed consent without hiring another attorney and the law firm failed to advise the clients that, in order to make an informed decision, an independent lawyer should/must be retained to review the agreement.

The opinion found that the employees had viable claims for breach of contract and fraud in the inducement since the retainer agreements called for individual and not collective representation; however, the DRSA required the aggregation of the employees’ claims.  Without discussion, the opinion also stated that the employees had a viable claim for legal malpractice.  Finally, the opinion held that the employees had adequately alleged a cause of action against Nextel for aiding and abetting the firm’s breach of fiduciary duty and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

Bottom line:  This opinion is interesting to say the least.  The law firm now apparently has serious civil (and potentially Bar disciplinary) liability for entering into the agreement with an opposing party/employer with an apparently clear and non-waivable conflict and then asking the clients/employees to agree to it and waive the conflict without consulting with an independent lawyer.

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

                My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.

                If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend it or help you get it!

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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Pennsylvania Lawyer Suspended for Three Years after Conviction for Delivering Marijuana to a Jail Inmate

Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Alert will discuss the recent case of a Pennsylvania lawyer who was suspended after his conviction for delivering marijuana to a jail inmate.  The lawyer was initially suspended on February 3, 2010 based on his felony conviction and, in an Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dated October 3, 2011; he was suspended for 3 years retroactive to the date of the initial suspension.   The discipline case citation is:  Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. William Floyd Conway, Case No. 149DB2009 (Pa. Supr. Ct., October 3, 2011).

According to reports, the lawyer needed money for cocaine, his drug dealer was in jail, and the dealer’s girlfriend asked him to take the marijuana into the jail in exchange for money and some cocaine.  The lawyer apparently agreed and was arrested by detectives after he concealed an envelope containing marijuana in his sock, signed into the Allegheny County Jail, met with the inmate in the attorney-client room, and gave him the marijuana.

After he was arrested, the lawyer provided a voluntary statement and admitted to receiving an unsealed envelope “with the contents inside,” accepting it, sealing the envelope, concealing it in his sock and delivering it to the inmate.  He pled guilty to criminal charges in June 2009 and was sentenced to five years of probation.

The lawyer claimed in mitigation that he was addicted to drugs at the time of his misconduct in 2007 and that the addiction was the cause of his misconduct.  In a 1989 disciplinary case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a psychiatric disorder can only qualify as a mitigating factor if it was a causal factor in producing the professional misconduct.  The disciplinary report found that cocaine use was not the cause of the lawyer’s behavior; however, the report set forth several other mitigating factors, including the actions the lawyer took to prevent reoccurrences of the behavior, his cooperation with the board, and his remorse.

In a strong dissent, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice pointed out that the lawyer had previously been arrested in 2004 and charged with possession of crack cocaine and careless driving and subsequently entered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct; however, he was apparently not required to inform the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board of the conviction and was not disciplined.  The lawyer also had an arrest in 1976.  In the dissent, the Justice argued that “(the lawyer’s) history bespeaks dubious and reckless character traits that are not easily subject to reform, particularly given that (he) is 63 years of age” and that he should be suspended for 5 years.

Bottom line:  Lawyers, please try not to do this…

…and be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

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Florida Appellate Opinion Finds That Termination of Services “Penalty” Clause In Probate Contingency Fee Agreement Violates Bar Rule 4–1.5 and is Unenforceable

Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Alert will discuss the very recent Florida 4th DCA case wherein the court found a termination of services clause in a probate contingent fee to be unenforceable and a violation of Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5.   The case is Guy Bennett Rubin, P.A. v. Guettler — So.3d —-, 2011 WL 4577670 (Fla. 4 DCA October 5, 2011).

In Rubin v. Guettler, the law firm took a probate litigation case on a contingency fee basis and was subsequently fired by the client without cause.  The probate litigation was then apparently abandoned by the client before any recovery was obtained; however, the law firm sued the client and requested that the trial court enforce a clause in the fee agreement requiring the client to pay for services provided prior to the discharge, which clause is set forth below.

“In the event I discharge the firm prior to resolution by judgment or settlement, or if I elect to no longer pursue the Anticipated Claims as identified herein-below, I agree to immediately thereafter pay LAW FIRM accrued hourly legal fees based upon the hourly rates as follows: Services of Guy Bennett Rubin $500/hr., all other attorneys $400/hr., all paralegals $150/hr., all legal assistants $100/hr. listed in paragraph 4 immediately above.”

The trial court granted summary judgment against the lawyer finding that the clause resulted in a penalty in violation of Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5 and was not enforceable as a matter of law.  The law firm appealed.

The 4th DCA agreed with the trial court stating that “(a) termination-of-services clause in a contingency-fee agreement, which provides for the client to pay the discharged law firm for all services rendered up through the date of termination at the prevailing hourly rate for firm members, if the client abandons or dismisses the claim, violates rule 4–1.5 on its face. The Florida Bar v. Hollander, 607 So.2d 412, 414 (Fla.1992).  The opinion also cited to The Florida Bar v. Doe, 550 So.2d 1111 (Fla.1989).  In that Bar discipline case, the Florida Supreme Court stated that “(a)n attorney cannot exact a penalty for a right of discharge.”

The 4th DCA opinion also rejected the lawyer’s argument that he was entitled to quantum meruit since an action for quantum meruit “arises only upon the successful occurrence of the contingency.  If the client fails in his recovery, the discharged attorney will similarly fail and recover nothing (citation omitted).”  Since the trial court found that there was no evidence that the plaintiffs received anything as a result of the litigation they had dismissed their claims against the estate and recovered nothing, the contingency did not occur and the lawyer was not entitled to quantum meruit.

Bottom line:  Florida lawyers should be very wary: Florida Bar Rules and Florida case law unequivocally prohibit penalty/termination of services/discharge clauses in contingency fee matters such as the one in this case.

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.

If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend it or help you get it!

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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Virginia Lawyer charged with violating Bar client confidentiality and advertising rules for blogging about former clients and closed cases

Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Ethics Alert will discuss the recent disciplinary charges against a Virginia lawyer for violating Virginia’s disciplinary rules related to client confidentiality and advertising for blogging about his former clients and closed cases.

The disciplinary case was scheduled for a hearing before a Virginia Bar panel on Oct. 18, 2011.  According to media reports, the case appears to be the first time the Virginia Bar has charged a lawyer with misconduct alleging that blogging was a violation of the Bar advertising rules.

The criminal defense attorney apparently has a blog that is accessible on the law firm’s website which discusses his former cases (without naming the clients or obtaining their permission) and he also writes about substantive criminal justice issues.  The charge of misconduct states that the lawyer blogged about information that would be “embarrassing” or “detrimental” to his clients, including discussing the case of a juvenile client and using a pseudonym for the client’s name.  The lawyer apparently conceded that he did not obtain the consent of his clients discuss the cases; however, the matters he discussed on his blog are in the public domain and he had the permission of the juvenile client’s parents to talk about that case.

The misconduct charge also alleges that the purpose of the lawyer’s website (and presumably all lawyer websites) is to advertise and market the firm, pursuant to same, any discussions of the lawyer’s cases are advertising and must include a disclaimer “that puts the case results in a context that is not misleading.”  The lawyer argued that the blog is news and commentary and that a requirement that he include a disclaimer would be a violation of his First Amendment rights.

Bottom line:  the Florida Bar rules regulating advertising do not currently directly address blogging; however, Bar Rule 4-7.2(c)(1)(F) prohibits “any reference to past successes or results obtained”.  Also, any online public discussions of confidential client information in a public forum (even if the client’s name is not mentioned) may violate lawyer/client confidentiality.

The epic clash between the digital/electronic age and the various State Bar’s attempts to regulate a lawyer’s electronic communications rolls on…

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

 THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.

If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend it or help you get it!

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania begins Tweeting Notice of Opinions and Orders

            Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Ethics Alert will discuss the recent press release of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stating that it will publish its opinions and other information on a Twitter account.

According an October 18, 2011 press release of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has established a new Twitter feed to increase online ease and access to its rulings.  The Twitter feed will provide instant notification of the online posting of Supreme Court related information, such as orders, new or amended rules, court opinions and concurring and dissenting statements of the Supreme Court justices.

Any individual can sign-up to receive alerts from the court’s Twitter page, which is at http://twitter.com/SupremeCtofPA if you are interested. “Follow Us On Twitter” links also will appear on the state court system’s Web site to take interested parties directly to the page.

According to the press release, all new rulings posted to the Pennsylvania Judicial website will be linked to a Tweet, and available immediately on a follower’s personal home page, according to the press release.  The new service will not be set up for communicating with the court and anyone who wants to communicate with the court must do so through the Public Comments section of the Pennsylvania Judicial website.

Bottom line:  Our electronic age marches on…

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

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New Jersey Lawyer Censured for Altering Law School Transcripts Provided to Law Firm

Hello everyone and welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Ethics Alert will discuss the recent (October 5, 2011) disciplinary opinion censuring a New Jersey lawyer for altering his law school transcript to increase his class grades and providing multiple altered law school transcripts to two New Jersey law firms with whom he was employed.  The case is In the Matter of Philip C. Prothro, An Attorney at Law, Disciplinary Review Board Docket No. DRB 11-061, District Docket No. XII-2010-008E.

According to New Jersey Supreme Court opinion and the report of the Disciplinary Review Board, the lawyer applied for employment as a summer associate for a New Jersey law firm called Sills Cummis in 2002.  He submitted an unofficial, self-prepared transcript for the fall 2001 semester which had a grade of “B+” in both Torts and Legal Research and Writing, even though he had received only a “B” in each class.  He then applied for employment as summer associate with the same firm in 2003 and submitted another unofficial, self-prepared transcript for the fall 2001 and spring 2002 semesters. In addition to the falsified “B+” grades for Torts and Legal Research and Writing, the transcript was also falsified to show a grade of “B-” for Constitutional Law instead of the actual grade of “C+”.

     In 2008, the lawyer then applied for employment as an associate with a New Jersey law firm called Herrick, Feinstein and provided that firm with an unofficial copy of his law school transcript, which he had again falsified, and he began working at that firm in October 2008.  That law firm required that he provide an official law school transcript.  A year after he was hired by the firm, the lawyer provided what he claimed was his official law school transcript.  The “official” transcript that he provided had an alleged note to “Elise” with an indelible black marker over the grade for his Constitutional Law class.  When an individual at Herrick, Feinstein held up the piece of paper to a light, they noticed that the grade that he received in that class was a “C+” and not the “A” that was on the transcript that he had previously provided to the firm.

The law firm then terminated the lawyer and gave him an opportunity to report himself to the Bar; however he failed to do so and the firm subsequently reported him. The lawyer denied that he had falsified the transcript that he provided to the Sills Cummins law firm; however, he later admitted that he falsified all of the transcripts.

The lawyer represented himself before the New Jersey disciplinary review board and expressed remorse for “an indefensible decision that I have regretted ever since” and he also apparently apologized to some lawyers in the Herrick, Feinstein law firm.  The disciplinary review board split on whether to suspend the lawyer from practice and ultimately recommended that he receive the censure/reprimand.  The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the Board’s recommendation and censured the lawyer in its October 5, 2011 opinion.

Bottom line:  this is another example of how false and/or falsified statements in any material documents, including professional resumes, and the altering of official transcripts documents to try to improve a lawyer’s standing and/or potential employability, can come back to haunt the person who engages in such misconduct; however, in this case, the conduct did not result in the lawyer’s suspension from practice.

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.

If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend it or help you get it!

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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