March 13, 2008
Using Trust Account To Avoid Creditors
The Minnesota Supreme Court imposed a suspension for a minimum of one year in a matter where "a lawyer deceptively labeled a personal account as a trust account to shield his personal funds from judgment creditors, improperly kept personal funds in his client trust account, commingled client and personal funds, and made misrepresentations to and failed to cooperate with [disciplinary counsel]. The attorney "had two prior instances of similar misconduct, failed to recognize the wrongfulness of his conduct, and failed to place client retainers in a trust account." The court rejected the contention that the attorney had been denied discovery from disciplinary counsel.
In light of the attorney's misconduct, attitude and prior discipline, one might fairly ask what it takes to get disbarred? (Mike Frisch)
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Not to defend the attorney, and I think it right that he got the serious discipline of suspension, but I do think it matters whether the commingling led to too much money in the client account versus not enough. The latter puts clients at risk of losing their own money. The former risks cheating creditors. Creditors deserve to be protected by law and even legal ethics rules, but I do believe clients need it more, from the discipline system.
Posted by: Childress | Mar 13, 2008 9:52:03 AM