I Want to Report an Unethical Lawyer


QMy friend just left a small, three-person boutique firm to start up her own practice, in the same field. Her boss is one of those uber-respected lawyers in his field—lots of name-recognition, lots of love. The problem is, he’s not only disgusting (referring to his autistic son as “retarded,” making hiring decisions on how big someone’s boobs are, using the n-word after clients leave), he’s also an ethical disaster. He commingles client funds, holds onto awards given to clients and won’t give them back (with or without interest), won’t bill clients until they ask for their award and then tells them he spent $10K on copies, costs clients appeals by missing court—I could go on.

I think this scum should be reported to the State Ethics Commission—I’d do it myself, but I don’t have first-hand knowledge. His clients don’t want to do it because they’re scared he’ll hurt them financially or legally. And my friend won’t do it because she worked for the scum for five years, so she’d be disciplined too for failing to come forward earlier (though she didn’t know about all of this the entire time).

Can anything be done? I’m not looking for a vendetta here—well, okay, I kinda am. Especially for the “retarded” comment, given that his clients are special-needs kids. But I mainly want to prevent him from stealing money and costing cases for other future clients, if at all possible. I don’t think these things should go unreported, but from all I hear about legal ethics, it sounds like they usually do.

AWho the hell is this guy? Don Corleone? John Gotti? Why would his clients be afraid to report him for stealing their money?  In any event, of course something can be done. I’m not an ethics expert, but I’m sure there’s some sort of legal/ethical process that can be initiated here that would both punish this alleged scumbag and protect his future clients.

I bet some of our readers know more about this than I do. Bitter Lawyers, any advice for our disgruntled and outraged friend?

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

17 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    December 5, 2008 at 4:49 am

    I don’t know.  Maybe an anonymous letter to the ethics board might do something, but what’s wrong with using the word “retarded” ?  We use it all the time. Is that no longer politically correct.  I heard that you should be using the word Asians, rather than Orientals.  Is that stupid or what?  Asia stretches from Indonesia to Turkey.  Now don’t tell me all those people look alike!

  2. BL1Y

    December 5, 2008 at 5:03 am

    How are you a lawyer while lacking the most basic of research skills?  Go to your state bar website.  Find a contact number.  Call.  Ask them what you should do.  Do it.

  3. Anonymous

    December 5, 2008 at 5:53 am

    As far as i know you can’t anonymously get someone in trouble through the state bar.  It is to prevent people from frivolously accusing others looking for a vendetta or spite.  Without the first-hand knowledge you can’t really report him.  You could report the friend who failed to report the boss’ misconduct (which is also a violation) or you could convince the friend to go ahead and report this guy.  If he is really stealing his client’s money, wouldnt at least one of his clients make a big stink about it?!?  maybe your friend was just shit talking about this guy or exxagerating about her exboss?  you could talk to his clients and let them know that they can contact the state bar to complain.  but to me it sounds like you are just bent out of shape about this guy calling a retard a retard.  you yourself stated that you dont have the first hand knowledge.  are you making unfounded accusations because you are personally offended by his remarks? that doesnt sound ethical to me.

  4. Phil Ken Sebben

    December 5, 2008 at 8:57 am

    While some of this ex-boss’ more reprehensible behavior may be beyond the reach of an ethics investigation (absent concrete evidence,) the financial stuff (commingling of funds, mis-characterizing certain payments as non-refundable, etc.) are serious violations in themselves.  The clients (if this state is anything like mine) have a right to demand an accounting of the attorney’s time slips and expense reports, so that could be a way to get the ball rolling.  Your friend (to avoid conflict of interest issues) should probably refer these clients to a completely different attorney, one who specializes in attorney malpractice cases.  In any event, your state bar probably has an “ethics hotline” as a public service to its members, so you (or your friend) should probably start there.

  5. putting things straight

    December 5, 2008 at 11:12 am

    a) you can be as politically correct as you want, but an autistic child is (at least somehow) retarded, isn’t it!
    b) what’s wrong with making hiring decision according to the size of the boobs. At the end of the day, you’ll have to work (and see) this person for many hours per day and I’d rather see somebody with big boobs than small boobs.
    c) what’s wrong with that?  He waits using the n-word AFTER the clients left…everything ok, no?
    Go get a life. Or a job.  Or some sexual satisfaction.  Whatever you need.

  6. john

    December 5, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    “putting things straight” is retarded.  Don’t be a hater, scumbag.  Did your mother run off with an autistic african-american?  Did your father beat you or molest you?  I hope you have an excuse, because I sure wouldn’t admit to being an asshole without some plausible explanation.

  7. Anonymous

    December 6, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I have three words of advice for you: Get Over It.

  8. Anonymous

    December 7, 2008 at 1:04 am

    I think that this blog makes up all of these alleged letters and questions. No way this guy went to law school, has practiced for four years, and is this clueless. No way the Coke and paralegal guy is such a moron not to know how to handle that cliche. The associate proposing to his girlfriend in Alicante or wherever and getting called back to NYC is also utter BS. None of this nonsense makes any sense and it seems clear from the limited number of posts that this is obvious.
    Putting up REAL letters about potentially less dramatic yet more useful (to people whoa re actually in the legal profession and may share a similarly non-dramatic yet nauseating conundrum) would be a better service to the website and the profession.

  9. Anonymous

    December 8, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I think the anonymous poster up at comment #1 has this right.  Hell, even if this isn’t fake it’s so obvious as to be a non-starter.  May as well start answering questions like “Remind me again, what’s jurisdiction?” and “How do a tie a tie?”

  10. Anonymous

    December 8, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    And comments are numbered from newest to oldest.  I guess I could have noticed that.

  11. Anonymous

    December 9, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    @ anonymous -1.04 AM: “it seems clear [...] that this is obvious” ? Depending on your degree of certitude, it either seems clear, or it is obvious, but it can hardly be both.

  12. CorpLawyr

    January 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Depending on the state in which you live in or this scum bag lives in, you can search for his attorney’s license. In Illinois we have the IARDC.  Once you find him, you can report him from there. You can be anonymous. Stealing from his clients is also stealing from the government since he is supposed to pay taxes on that money! At least in Illinois attorney’s must put their money in IOLTA accounts.

  13. Bitterer

    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Reporting an unethical lawyer makes as much sense as reporting a corrupt politician or a Catholic pope.  I agree that alot of these questions seem fishy.  My bet is some ex-lawyer on staff is ginning these up, which fits into my theory that almost everything lawyers touch turns to garbage.  Irony alert is that making up questions about ethics is itself unethical obvs lol.

  14. Barbara Burdell

    April 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I thought hiring an Ocean Springs’ MS attorney would be a smart thing. I am not in the habbit of hiring attorneys and had no idea what I was getting my self into. Any ways I was hit from behind and the couple was very rude and blamed me for the accident but they hit me So is at fault here
    the opposing insurance company wants to pay me only 70% of the damages and my attorney seems to think they are right. What is st his I ask myself. I thought he should be more aggressive and fight for me. Big laugh He wants my insurance company to pay for the damages. Does that make sense. I fired him Unhappy camper here

  15. Tracy

    October 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    If you want to hear something that will really shock you then watch this video about a Seattle lawyer that is paying his clients to do Google and Avvo reviews! You won’t believe it. He actually admits in public that he charges his clients a flat fee at the beginning of the case and then later when he asks them to do reviews he uses the money that they clients gave him in the beginning to “pay” them to do reviews in the end. So, in effect, the client is actually paying the attorney for the “privilege” of writing a review for him. AND he has the nerve to say that he thinks that it is ethical because he can’t find a rule that says it is not ethical. Unbelievable!!!

    http://s1275.photobucket.com/albums/y444/CrazyCatLady98004/?action=view&current=Attorney_Jason_Epstein_Thinks_It_Is_Ethical_To_Make_His_Clients_Pay_To_Write_Google_And_Avvo_Reviews_zps29ae248b.mp4

    • Hank

      October 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Burp. Not surprising. I am waiting to be really surprised by actually finding a video of a beautiful real female lawyer who is not just playing a lawyer on TV! Are there such women in real life? If so, where?

      • Jerry

        October 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

        Forget that stuff. Law school is stuffed with Stanky Pussy. Stanky pussy overload=99.44% stench factor. No oral for these pigs!

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