Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Indiana Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand of an attorney om stipulated facts
“Clients” tentatively had agreed with “Birth Mother” to adopt her baby after its birth, and Clients retained Respondent to represent them in the intended adoption. Late in her pregnancy, Birth Mother expressed concern to Respondent about Clients adopting her child and asked to look at profiles of other prospective adoptive parents. Respondent provided Birth Mother with these profiles, and Birth Mother ultimately selected another set of adoptive parents from the files provided to her by Respondent. Respondent did not discuss any of this with Clients until after Birth Mother had chosen a different set of adoptive parents. Although Respondent had other prospective adoptive parents sign written conflict-of-interest waivers, he neglected to have Clients sign one.
When Respondent and Clients discussed a partial reimbursement of fees advanced by Clients, Respondent presented Clients with a release form to sign that purported to bar Clients from filing a “claim” with the Disciplinary Commission. Clients refused to sign the release and retained separate counsel in contemplation of a legal malpractice suit. Respondent and Clients eventually reached a settlement.
The parties cite no facts in aggravation. Mitigating factors cited by the parties include among other things Respondent’s lack of prior discipline, his cooperation with disciplinary proceedings, and his settlement with Clients.
The court the sanction proposed by the parties. (Mike Frisch)