Articles Posted in Self-Dealing

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The case is captioned Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Robert Allan Wright, Jr., 13-0780, December 6, 2013.  The Iowa Supreme Court disciplined Wright for (a) failing to recognize a Nigerian scam and (b) allowing other clients to participate in the scam.  This case has received a fair amount of press attention, but the press has ignored the main issue in the case from a lawyer discipline perspective.

The trouble began when Wright was contacted by a client, Floyd Madison who informed Wright that Madison was the beneficiary of a large bequest from a long-lost cousin in Nigeria. Madison told Wright that he needed to pay $177,660 in inheritance taxes and then he (Madison) would receive the money. Most lawyers would have told Madison that the transaction was a scam. Wright, however, drafted a contingency fee agreement under which Wright would receive 10% of the inheritance in exchange for representing Madison.

Wright then made more mistakes. He urged several of his clients to loan money to Madison to help Madison pay the “inheritance taxes.”  At Wright’s urging, several of his other clients made loans to Madison. Wright placed the proceeds of the loans in his trust account. The opinion states “Wright stipulated that he failed to advise White, Stodden and Nunneman that they should seek independent counsel before making the loans to Madison.”

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The case is captioned Walter Duemer v. Edward T. Joyce and Associates, P.C., 2013 IL App (1st) 120687.

This case involved a fee dispute between Joyce, the attorney, and his former clients. In 2002, Joyce agreed to represent the plaintiffs in securities litigation with Deloitte & Touche, Jeffries Company, EPS Solutions and Enterprise Profit Solutions Corporations in connection with plaintiffs’ purchase of EPS stock. The fee agreement provided for “a contingent fee equal to twenty-five (25) percent of any and all money or other benefits recovered on the claims.”  In the underlying case, plaintiffs obtained settlements with some defendants and obtained an arbitration award against EPS. However, EPS’s insurers refused to pay the arbitration award.

In 2007, Joyce retained Morgan Lewis to file suit against the insurers of EPS.

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Filed December 28.

This case involves a lawyer who was the executor of his father’s estate and who, allegedly, took loans from the estate. The prosecution follows a recent trend – the ARDC has often prosecuted lawyers for conduct that does not relate to their legal work if the ARDC believes that the conduct was improper, deceptive or fraudulent. In almost all of these cases, the lawyer took some action that caused financial harm to others.

The ARDC hearing board found that there were violations of the rules and recommended a one year suspension of the lawyer.

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