Friday, November 15, 2013
An attorney who engaged in a conflict of interest by suing a current client for fees was reprimanded by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
It did not help that the ongoing representation was a bankruptcy proceeding and that the fee suit resulted in a wage assignment.
The Disciplinary Review Board evaluated the sanction question
Although compelling circumstances may reduce the measure of discipline to an admonition, we see no compelling circumstances here to warrant such a departure. Respondent and [his law partner] Middlebrooks admitted that they met together to determine how to proceed to collect their outstanding fees from the [clients]. Together, they decided to sue their clients in Superior Court to collect their fees, knowing they were engaged in an ongoing bankruptcy representation...
In aggravation, respndent's actions placed the clients at great risk. Had the fifty-percent (according to [one client]) wage executions been completed, the entire Chapter 13 might have failed and the second mortgage might have been reinstated.
The attorney has no prior discipline. (Mike Frisch)