Monday, December 5, 2011
Two law partners have been disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court for solicitation and fee sharing with non-lawyers. The court noted that the case had been "zealously litigated since 2002."
The attorneys had paid "runners" to solicit cases from April 1995 through April 1999. the court found they had engaged in an organized scheme based on selfish motives and excpressed no remorse. The misconduct was serious:
...their conduct was egregious - they cast a wide net covering more than 1300 cases. Their scheme was highly organized and very lucrative; and it was not short-lived. They were motivated by greed and they are not remorseful.
The attorneys had relied on a federal district court decision that "in their view...legalized solicitation of clients, although [one of them] later acknowleged that the order only applied [to use of a non-lawyer to solicit]." They were approached by two chiropractors, who agreed to refer clients for a fee.
The federal court decision was overturned by the Eleventh Circuit.
Although one of the partners testified that they stopped the practices when the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case, a long-time employee testified that it continued until federal agents searched their offices pursuant to a warrant and seized their "runner book."
A dissent would imposed a three-year suspension. (Mike Frisch)