Thursday, May 1, 2008

No Dishonest Motive But Lengthy Suspension

A two-year suspension was imposed by the Ohio Supreme Court in a matter involving an attorney who accepted clients from a company that uses direct mail to market estate planning services in Ohio and other states. In one instance, the attorney never met with the client but allowed a representative of the company to handle the matter and pay her a small fee for legal services. The ethics charges (which were admitted) involved requesting an organization to recommend or promote the lawyer's services, assisting the unauthorized practice of law, sharing fees with a non-lawyer and revealing confidences and secrets. "There was no evidence of a dishonest or selfish motive...and when [the attorney] became aware that her conduct was in violation of the Disciplinary Rules, she terminated her relationship with [the company}." (Mike Frisch)

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Imagine having your bar licenses suspended for two years over a measly $175. Sadly, that's what happened to this unfortunate Ohio attorney (Respondent) who accepted referrals from United Financial Systems Corporation (UFS), a national wealth management... [Read More]

Tracked on May 3, 2008 2:23:12 PM


Unless I am missing something, without an improper motive and likely repetition, this punishment seems way too harsh. These are all violations and ones that should be punished. But a two-year suspension is more than some courts give to far more serious violations, with much worse effect on clients. Even if they wanted to send a message, that could have been done by even a one-month suspension published in the bar journal.

Posted by: Alan Childress | May 1, 2008 9:57:23 AM

Alan-- that was my reaction as well. Note that it was a consent disposition and that the attorney now lives in Michigan and may not wish to practice in Ohio.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | May 1, 2008 11:17:31 AM

Yeah, I see. But then it is another example of advice you (Mike) have given here before: get represented and have an advocate or negotiator if one finds oneself in a serious bar matter. I believe independent counsel would get a better result or at least explain the unintended side-effects of even a consent disposition. In this example, there may well be some spillover to Michigan.

Posted by: Alan Childress | May 1, 2008 12:22:24 PM

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