Sunday, October 7, 2012

How not to practice law: Steal money from clients, then argue in your defense that you needed the money!

Here is another installment of the on-going series on how not to practice law.  In this new case, a lawyer was disbarred for, among other things, stealing money from clients.  That's not newsworthy, of course, since that is the typical sanction for misappropriation (although I just posted a story about a case in which the attorney unjustifiably in my opinion, got away with a lesser sanction).  What is interesting about this particular case is the explanation given by the lawyer "in his defense." 

In response to charges of theft of estate funds, the attorney testified that he  used the funds because he needed them for his business operations in difficult times and that it was all due to "the worst financial crisis in our nation's history."   In other words, he claimed he stole the client's money because the economy was bad and he needed the money.  The court said the lawyer's testimony can only be characterized as "a lame attempt to rationalize his theft."  I agree.  If you think that argument is going to help your case, you better look for another line of work.  Oh, wait!, you do need to look for another line of work because you just got disbarred!  

You can read the full opinion here.

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