December 30, 2015

Real-Life Examples of Attorney Misconduct

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In Indiana, all attorneys are required to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Indiana Rules”). When attorneys violate the Indiana Rules, they can face discipline from the courts – up to and including loss of their license to practice law.

In addition to facing discipline, in many cases, attorneys who violate the Indiana Rules can also face civil liability for their clients’ losses. The Indiana Rules establish various duties that attorneys owe their clients, and when they breach these duties, they can be held financially responsible through a claim for legal malpractice.

Attorney Misconduct in Indiana in 2015

The following are real-life examples of attorney misconduct in Indiana this year. It should be noted that these were all disciplinary cases – not claims alleging legal malpractice. However, generally speaking, given the right (or wrong) set of facts, the conduct involved in each case could also give rise to civil claims by the affected clients.

Attorney Suspended for Failing to Provide Adequate Representation and Keep Clients Informed

In August, an Indianapolis attorney was suspended from practicing law for a minimum of one year due to a pattern of providing inadequate representation to her clients. The attorney repeatedly failed to meet discovery deadlines, failed to respond to motions filed by opposing parties and ignored her clients’ requests for information about the status of their cases. As a result of her misconduct, one client unknowingly lost his child support case and another had her case dismissed entirely.

Attorney Disbarred for Theft of Client Funds after Two Prior Disciplinary Matters

In July, a bankruptcy lawyer lost his license after he fraudulently endorsed a check mailed to him on behalf of one of his clients. The lawyer never told his client about the check and used the funds for his own personal purposes. When the client sought alternate representation after learning about the theft, the attorney refused to transfer the client’s file.

This was the attorney’s third disciplinary matter. The prior cases had involved knowingly making false statements to a court, failing to provide diligent representation and failing to keep his clients adequately informed.

Attorney Disbarred for Inflating Fees, Breaching Clients’ Confidence and Other Violations

In a particularly egregious case of attorney misconduct, an attorney was summarily disbarred earlier this month for a host of ethical violations under the Indiana Rules. The cited violations included:

  • Stealing approximately $150,000 from clients’ deposits into his firm’s trust account
  • Charging “nonrefundable” retainer fees and instructing staff to inflate bills in order to deplete the retainers when clients asked for refunds
  • Inflating clients’ bills in “retaliation” for certain requests
  • Falsely telling opposing counsel in a case that he was “in a hospital room watching a loved one die of cancer”
  • Exposing clients’ confidential information when they gave him bad online reviews
  • Threatening and intimidating the former employee who reported his misconduct

Price, Waicukauski, Joven & Catlin, LLC | Indianapolis Legal Malpractice Attorneys

Unfortunately, these are just a few examples of the numerous disciplinary actions filed against attorneys in Indiana this year. With offices in Indianapolis, Price, Waicukauski, Joven & Catlin, LLC provides experienced representation for victims of legal malpractice statewide. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call (800) 905-2856 or contact us online today.


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