December 4, 2009
A Bump In the Road
An Arizona hearing officer has recommended the censure of an attorney who is a certified specialist in personal injury and wrongful death. He had a number of clients who faced "challenging financial circumstances" and arranged loans to clients through an arrangement by which the loans were made by another attorney secured by promissory notes. The attorney lent money to the other lawyer from personal accounts when the other lawyer did not have money to fund a loan. The attorney knew that the other attorney made loans through checks written on a lawyer trust account.
The hearing officer found that the arrangements violated current client conflicts rules and business transactions with client provisions. There was no harm, the lawyer had acted negligently and the misconduct was motivated by concern for the welfare of clients. He was "very remorseful" and held an erroneous belief that "what he and [the other lawyer] were doing was okay...To misquote an old saying: 'The road to trouble is paved with good intentions.' " (Mike Frisch)
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