September 30, 2009
Commingling Roles Draws Suspension
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has imposed a one-year suspension of an attorney in connection with his misuse of funds in a spendthrift trust that the attorney set up. The key legal conclusion:
Vis-a-vis the Kulp Trust respondent acted in a dual capacity. He performed legal services by advising the settlor and drafting the trust document in which he was named a co-trustee. He also served in a fiduciary capacity qua co-trustee of the Kulp Trust. A lawyer who commingles the role of a lawyer with that of a fiduciary is not immune to and cannot escape disciplinary action for a breach of fiduciary duty occurring dehors the practice of law. He or she will be held both to the ethical standards for lawyers as well as to those governing fiduciaries.
The court rejected a proposed six-month suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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