Hello everyone and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent disciplinary Order/Opinion of the Rhode Island Supreme Court opinion requiring a Rhode Island lawyer to perform 20 hours of pro bono legal work in family court guardianship matters to resolve a disciplinary case. The case citation is: In the Matter of Milan Azar, Rhode Island Supreme Court Case No. 2011-359-M.P. (November 10, 2011).
According to the opinion, the case began with a billing dispute related to the lawyer’s representation in several family court guardianship cases for children in the same family. After a disciplinary complaint was filed, the lawyer blamed the billing problems on “staff error”; however, further investigation by the disciplinary agency showed that he had no staff.
The opinion also states that the lawyer admitted that he made the false statements because he was embarrassed. In mitigation, the opinion noted that “Respondent has no prior discipline, that he appears to be fully remorseful for his conduct, and that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct. There are no aggravating factors present in this case.” If the lawyer completes the 20 hours of pro bono services, the case will be dismissed without further order of the court.
Bottom line: Lawyers should always tell the truth and shouldn’t blame mistakes on staff if there aren’t any (and don’t expect the result in this case if they do). Perhaps we may have learned this in kindergarten?
…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, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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istakes on staff if there aren’t any (and don’t expect the result in this case if they do). Perhaps we may have learned this in kindergarten?
…be careful out there!