Thursday, June 26, 2008

Transition To Firm Leads To Ethics Charges

A complaint filed by the Illinois ARDC alleges that the attorney had undertaken the representation of two plaintiffs in cases involving claims of employment discrimination. The lawyer, who had a solo practice, then accepted a partnership with a law firm that defended business interests in such matters. According to the complaint:

Prior to the initiation of his employment at Hinshaw, Respondent knew that Hinshaw expected him to build a practice on representing businesses and government entities in employment litigation matters, and that, accordingly, he should withdraw from and/or find substitute counsel for as much of his plaintiff employment litigation practice as possible prior to his employment. 

Prior to the initiation of his employment at Hinshaw, Respondent knew that he would have to close his solo practice when he started at the firm and that once he began his employment at Hinshaw he would be required to proceed on all matters, henceforth, as a Hinshaw lawyer and not a solo practitioner.

Prior to the initiation of his employment at Hinshaw, Respondent knew that when he started at the firm he would be required to substitute Hinshaw in as counsel of record for all open client matters, and to input client names in the Hinshaw conflict system for the purpose checking for conflicts of interest.

The complaint alleges that the attorney did not close his solo practice and had continued to represent the two plaintiffs without disclosure to the firm. He allegedly remained sole counsel of record in the cases without substituting the firm's appearance. The firm terminated his employment when it learned he had not closed his solo practice. According to the complaint:

At no time before December 12, 2006, had Respondent advised Hinshaw partners Browne or Shannon that he was not able to file plaintiffs’ response to the Dominick’s defendants’ motions for summary judgment in case number 03 C 9343 in a timely fashion.

On or shortly after December 12, 2006, Hinshaw learned that Respondent continued to represent clients he had prior to his employment with Hinshaw, in addition to the plaintiffs in case number 03 C 9343, including, but not limited to, Chicago Transit Authority, Janis Taylor, and Jesica Gonzalez, without opening Hinshaw client matters, inputting the party names into the Hinshaw conflict system, or substituting Hinshaw as counsel of record.

On or shortly after December 12, 2006, Hinshaw asked Respondent for his resignation.

On or about January 12, 2007, Hinshaw terminated Respondent’s employment.

Respondent’s conduct in failing to advise his partners at Hinshaw that he continued to represent clients he had prior to his employment with Hinshaw, including, but not limited to the plaintiffs in 03 C 93423, without opening Hinshaw client matters, inputting the party names into the Hinshaw conflict system, or substituting Hinshaw as counsel of record, as set forth...above, was dishonest and Respondent knew it was dishonest because Respondent knew of Hinshaw’s expectation, requirements, and practices in this regard.

The lawyer is charged with, among other things, neglect of the two employment cases and breach of fiduciary duties to the law firm. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2008/06/a-complaint-fil.html

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