Thursday, February 28, 2013

Disbarment Proposed For Foreign Legal Consultant

The Illinois Review Board has filed a recommendation that an attorney licensed as a "foreign legal consultant" be disbarred.

The review board rejected claims that the attorney's practice was properly confined:

While Respondent may have been authorized to assist his clients in immigration matters, that authorization did not extend to assisting them with incorporating and establishing businesses in Illinois. Supreme Court Rule 712(e) expressly limited Respondent to providing legal services in Illinois only on the law of the foreign country where he was admitted to practice. It prohibited Respondent from rendering advice on Illinois law (see Supreme Court Rule 712(e)(8)).

The preparation of articles of incorporation has been found to involve the practice of law in Illinois. Illinois State Bar Association Advisory Opinion 97-5 considered the question and concluded that, "while an individual may complete the forms for him/herself without receiving assistance, anyone giving advice to another in the completion of the corporate documents, such as the articles of incorporation, is unlawfully engaged in the practice of law, regardless of whether compensation is received." (Ill.St. Bar. Assn. 1995). While Respondent disagrees with this position, he has not provided us with a persuasive reason to disregard it.

The review board noted the absence of sanction precedent for misconduct by a licensed foreign legal consultant:

As the Hearing Board noted, there is no Illinois precedent for discipline of foreign legal consultants other than Respondent's prior disciplinary proceeding. Nonetheless, the circumstances of this case clearly reveal that Respondent is neither willing nor able to abide by the limitations upon a foreign legal consultant's practice. Despite Respondent's representations to the Administrator in his first disciplinary matter that he understood those limitations, he abused the privilege of his foreign legal consultant status, gave clients and other attorneys the false impression that he was licensed to practice in Illinois without limitation, and profited from his misrepresentations. Respondent's recidivism is a significant factor in aggravation that supports disbarment...

We recognize that Respondent has placed himself on inactive status and is no longer on the Master Roll of Attorneys, but we do not believe that he should have the opportunity to return to active status. We consider it unlikely that he would abide by the applicable ethical rules if he were to return to practice in the future. Therefore, we recommend that Respondent be disbarred as a foreign legal consultant. The purpose of our recommendation is not to punish Respondent, but to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the profession and protect the administration of justice from reproach.

(Mike Frisch)

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