May 18, 2007
A lawyer who overbilled two elderly and vulnerable sisters by "continuing to perform legal work to collect money that had been stolen...by their former attorney despite the unlikelihood that he would recover enough funds to justify his fees" was disciplined by the Ohio Supreme Court. The first lawyer had misappropriated over $800,000 in assets. The lawyer here padded his bills with "unnecessary and repetitive tasks." The court rejected the proposed sanction of public reprimand. Rather, the court ordered a six month suspension followed by probation, a requirement that the attorney notify probate courts of the discipline in future cases and payment of $50,000 restitution.
Why did the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline conclude that suspension was too harsh for taking advantage of vulnerable clients? I suppose that volunteer Boards just have a hard time accepting that it is possible to overcharge a client. Fortunately, the court has the ultimate authority and responsibility to consider the public interest and the integrity of the profession. (Mike Frisch)
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