Corporate lawyers don’t get too much discipline press
Sometimes they deserve it, so they too, can stay off the radar of LawyersWithTroubles.
Ky. lawyer Ronald Hines was a corporate lawyer with Cody Properties, Inc. He worked there for years, Cody was the employer. Then trouble brewed in the corporate boardroom, and Hines took a side with one faction. In fact he filed a suit against some of the corporate officers, without the Board’s approval, and expressed his opinion that the Board was not properly elected. But he did not do it within the chain of command, or under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
He turned corporate files over to dissident shareholders, and objected to the LLC’s organizing papers that he had drafted to create the entity, calling them “fraudulent.” He got fired by the new management, but still continued to hold himself out as “counsel for the corporation.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court found violations or Rule 1.7 – Conflict of Interests, 1.13(a) – Duty of Loyalty with Organizational Clients, 1.4(a) Failure to Communicate with Client (the new officers he was fired by), 1.16 Duties Upon Termination of Representation, and 1.8 Duty of Confidentiality of Client Information.
The Court suspended Hines for 120 days for this series of violations. KY does not report the process of reinstatement in this Order.
“I [heart] hot moms”
One thing about technology is the great evidence that is contained there. Clients do dumb things, and tell the world. Lawyers who help them “clean up the record” are doing even dumber (and more expensive) things as Virginia lawyer Matt Murray found out.
Fortunately for the client the VA Supreme Court upheld the $8.5M wrongful death verdict coming out of the tragic case, but Murray got tagged for a $542,000 legal fee sanction for advising the client to “clean up the Facebook pages” where, among other things, the deceased woman’s husband and plaintiff had a photo showing himself in a T-shirt that read “I love hot moms.” Murray thought that might hurt the case, so he had a paralegal instruct the husband to remove that photo, 15 others and some text. Because the husband had previously communicated with the adjuster through Facebook, the defendants knew of the materials.
Murray has been reported to DC for abusing the Rules of Professional Conduct, and is now under investigation. He is no longer actively practicing law.
Another article on this case by Sharon Nelson: http://tinyurl.com/l586f5k
Reimbursements — I need an expense for that?
BIGLAW lawyers live in a different world. One thought nothing of seeking $69,000 in reimbursements for cab fare, but forgot to first incur the $69,000 in fares. Lee Smolen, of the Chicago office of Chicago’s biggest law firm Sidley & Austin, not only got his cab fares paid, but also $50,000 in entertainment expenses “not incurred for legitimate firm purposes.”
Apparently the partners at S&A did not see the humor, fired him and submitted the theft to the IL disciplinary authorities.
But it did not faze his new firm, DLA Piper, with law offices in Chicago and around the world. It said that Lee had “learned from his experience” and will be a productive member of their team.
H/T John Conlon