Misrepresentations will lead to enhanced disciplinary sanctions

first_img Misrepresentations will lead to enhanced disciplinary sanctions Misrepresentations will lead to enhanced disciplinary sanctions Making misrepresentations to the Bar during the course of a grievance investigation will lead to enhanced disciplinary sanctions, the Florida Supreme Court has said in a recent ruling.The court, in that case, overruled the referee’s recommendation for a three-year suspension for a Hollywood attorney and instead ordered disbarment. The attorney was found guilty of taking unethical actions that harmed eight clients and suborning the unlicensed practice of law by a nonlawyer who already was the subject of a Supreme Court stipulation for permanent injunction for UPL activities on immigration matters.The attorney had represented the nonlawyer in the UPL action, and afterwards the nonlawyer sold her business to two other people, but remained as an employee and manager. The lawyer opened a second office in that business, began accepting legal work there, and used the office staff to accomplish legal work.In addition, the nonlawyer and the business had access to the legal accounts, and met and advised potential clients, including choosing forms and filling out paperwork. The lawyer terminated his relationship with the company after discovering the nonlawyer had used his law firm stationery to write a letter of which he had no knowledge and had not approved. The business then brought in another lawyer and transferred its and the first attorney’s cases to him.The referee found as a result of the lawyer’s misconduct that eight clients were harmed because the lawyer failed to “communicate with the client as to the status of his or her case, failed to take necessary corrective actions with regard to petitions filed on behalf of the client, took actions adverse to a client’s case without consent, or abandoned the client.”The referee also found that the lawyer failed to give all the pertinent information to the Bar or gave misleading answers during the grievance investigation.The court noted in two earlier discipline cases a lawyer was suspended for three years for charging excessive fees and providing no or inadequate services that harmed four clients having immigration matters and where an attorney was suspended for a year for assisting a nonlawyer in UPL.But in this case, the court found, the attorney “affected more clients than in either of those cases, attempted to mislead the Bar during its investigation, assisted in the unlicensed practice of law, and formed an improper partnership with a nonlawyer whom he previously represented. Thus. . . the record supports a harsher sanction. . . disbarment.”The court acted June 26 in case nos. SC06-1101 and SC07-01.center_img August 15, 2008 Regular Newslast_img