July 2, 2012
Teach Your Students Well
If you are teaching professional responsibility at a law school, you might want to take a look at a recent decision of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
The attorney was admitted to practice in 1983 and had no prior discipline. He settled a personal injury case in 2004. With the client's consent, he kept $2,000 in his trust account for payment of medical bills.
When the client sought the remainder of the money, there were insufficent funds because the attorney had used the money to cover payroll and operating costs. The funds were replaced and the client was paid on the very day of the request.
No harm, no foul?
This conduct involved intentional misappropriation, which is "not only stealing, but also unauthorized temporary use for the attorney's own purpose, whether or not the attorney derives any personal gain or benefit therefrom."
Because the attorney fully cooperated and had numerous character references, he was suspended for a year instead of disbarred. (Mike Frisch)
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