Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Excessive Fees Result In Probation

More from the California Bar Journal:

[An attorney] was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect May 9, 2009.

While one of two partners at [his law firm] in San Diego, [he] represented two trusts worth more than $16 million that held the assets of James Hervey Johnson, a noted atheist who died in 1988. Both [he and his partner] provided legal advice and represented the trusts and trustees from 1997 to 2000, collecting more than $2.9 million in fees. [He] did more work than his partner on the account.

In 2000, the California Attorney General charged both lawyers with collecting excessive fees. The trustees were charged with mismanaging the trusts.

In a 2004 settlement, [the attorney] agreed to refund $330,000 of the $480,000 [the firm] had collected in unearned fees. He ultimately completed the restitution.

He stipulated that he failed to promptly refund unearned fees.

In mitigation, [the attorney] had no prior discipline record, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he took steps to address the harm suffered by his clients.

(Mike Frisch)

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