Monday, April 25, 2011
The Illinois Review Board has recommended a 90 day suspension of a previously-disciplined attorney. The attorney was hired to replace counsel in a divorce matter. He advised the client by e-mail that he had put the date of the next hearing in his PalmPilot. When the attorney failed to appear at that hearing, a default was entered against the client.
The client learned of the default from his ex-wife. He contacted the attorney, who later moved to vacate the default but failed to mention that he had been retained before the hearing. The client sued him for malpractice and won a substantial judgment. The attorney did not have malpractice insurance and the client's recovery has been limited to $22,000.
As to sanction
Respondent has not provided any authority for a suspension of less than 90 days under the circumstances presented here. While the misconduct at issue occurred approximately six years ago, it is not entirely clear that Respondent fully accepts and understands his wrongdoing. For example, he blames opposing counsel for his lack of notice of the default prove-up hearing and attempts to minimize the nature of his misconduct before this Board. Thus, a 90-day suspension is necessary to protect the public, impress upon Respondent the need to avoid similar misconduct in the future, and deter other attorneys from engaging in similar misconduct.