Saturday, February 04, 2017

Another Lawyer Gets Bar Boot; NJ Supremes Yank Attorney's Law License For Ripping Off His Clients, Law Firm Of Over $350K

Law360 reports:
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court has disbarred a malpractice attorney who deposited more than $350,000 in client funds from his Haddonfield firm into his own account, according to a high court order and ethics decision made public on Thursday [January 19].(1)(2)

    The justices’ Wednesday [January 18] order stripping Jack S. Cohen of his license to practice law followed the recommendation of the state Disciplinary Review Board. The unanimous vote was cast in November by seven of the DRB’s nine members; two members didn’t participate.
For more, see NJ Atty Disbarred For Misappropriating Client Funds.
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(1) See generally, Frederick Miller, "If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer .... ?", 138 Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Rev. 785 (1990) for more on the apparent, long-standing tolerance for deceit by many in the legal profession (while Professor Miller's essay is over a quarter-century old, it appears that his observations maintain their vitality to this day):
  • This tolerance to deception is encouraged by the profession's institutional civility. Seldom is a fig called a fig, or a shyster a shyster. No, our euphemisms are wonderfully polite: "frivolous conduct," or a "lack of candor;" or "law-office failure;" or, heaven forbid, a "peculation," a "defalcation," or a "negative balance" in a law firms's trust account.

    There is also widespread reluctance on the part of lawyers --- again, some lawyers --- to discuss publicly, much less acknowledge, that they have colleagues who engage in deceit and unprofessional conduct.

    This reluctance is magnified when the brand of deceit involves the theft of client money and property, notwithstanding that most lawyers would agree that stealing from clients is the ultimate ethical transgression.
    ***
    The fact is, however, that theft of client property is not an insignificant or isolated problem within the legal profession. Indeed, it is a hounding phenomenon nationwide, and probably the principal reason why most lawyers nationwide are disbarred from the practice of law.
(2) The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to dishonest conduct of a member of the New Jersey Bar.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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