March 29, 2008
Unauthorized And Ill-Informed
The Kansas Supreme Court indefinitely suspended an attorney who is presently serving a disciplinary suspension for assisting a friend in a bankruptcy, which the court concluded amounted to unauthorized practice of law as well as other violations.
"...the evidence clearly established that Respondent did not give J.P. good advice. The reporting attorney's letter to J.P. explains that, not only were the filed bankruptcy schedules disadvantageous to J.P., but the choice to pursue bankruptcy was ill-advised. Indeed, when asked whether he disputed the reporting attorney's claims, Respondent admitted that he did not possess sufficient bankruptcy knowledge to know whether the analysis in the letter was correct.
One perceives that Respondent did not feel constrained by his lack of bankruptcy knowledge and experience because he was simply helping a friend without charging a fee. However, the friend knew that Respondent was an attorney, albeit she also knew that he was currently suspended. The friend clearly relied on Respondent to know what he was doing. In the context of attorney-client privilege, we have said that an attorney-client relationship 'is sufficiently established when it is shown that the advice and assistance of the attorney is sought and received in matters pertinent to the profession.' Notwithstanding that Respondent may have lacked any pecuniary motive, he had an obligation to provide competent advice when J.P. sought his assistance. In the alternative, Respondent could have referred J.P. to competent counsel, which he was subsequently to do after the harm had been done." (Mike Frisch)
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