Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unmanageable

The Illinois Review Board has proposed a suspension of two years and until further order ("UFO") of an attorney with a record of prior discipline. The board on sanction:

Respondent’s failure to resolve the practice management problems that have led to his misconduct is especially troubling. In the past, Respondent attributed his neglect of client matters to his overly busy practice, yet failed to make any changes to prevent further neglect. He completed an ethics course intended to improve his understanding of his obligation to communicate properly with clients, yet ignored all of [his client's] requests for information. The record shows that he has a history of overextending himself to the point that he cannot keep up with all of his responsibilities. Because Respondent’s prior discipline has not had the desired effect of improving his office practices, it would be appropriate to require him to demonstrate that he has implemented changes before he is allowed to resume representing clients.

In this case, Respondent was aware that the ARDC was investigating the...matter prior to June 2, 2009, when he appeared for a sworn statement. From that point forward to the hearing, which occurred on March 31, 2010, he did nothing to demonstrate that he understood the nature of his misconduct. He took no active steps to earnestly demonstrate that he was taking corrective action of some kind. He says he will implement changes, but he had an opportunity to prove it and did nothing. Promising to change and failing to change is the pattern of his conduct in four disciplinary cases.

The Hearing Board further found that Respondent’s lack of cooperation with the Administrator aggravated his misconduct. We agree. Respondent failed to answer the complaint, which resulted in the allegations against him being deemed admitted, and did not appear for two pre-hearing conferences prior to becoming ill. This non-cooperation and his lack of cooperation in his second disciplinary proceeding demonstrate a pattern. When an attorney is inattentive to his own disciplinary proceedings, especially the fourth time through the system, it indicates "that he is not capable of representing clients in a responsible and conscientious manner." (citations omitted)

The hearing board that considered the matter had recommended a two-year suspension and completion of a course, rather than UFO. (Mike Frisch)

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