However, a lawyer's ethical obligations when working with paralegals are relatively straightforward and, . First, a paralegal may not establish the attorney- client relationship. . fees requested for paralegals for functions that are considered clerical or secretarial in nature. American Bar Association, Attorneys, Chicago, IL. Illinois courts hold that the attorney-client relationship is contractual and can be formed only by a retainer agreement or payment of fees. People v. Simms, Rockford Driver's License Reinstatement Attorney /Abogados He has had exceptional success in obtaining favorable results for his clients. experience needed to vigorously represent your interests before the Illinois Secretary of State . to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
When charges or complaints are filed, they tend to focus more on the actual misconduct which arose out of the impairment and not on the violation of the mandatory withdrawal requirement. For example, in In re O'Connor, the respondent was brought before the ARDC for the neglect of at least five matters, which included conversion of client funds, the making of improper payments, and engaging in dishonesty.
The respondent's misconduct occurred during a time in which he suffered from alcoholism, depression, and self-defeating personality disorder. He was found to have engaged in misconduct including failure to file motions to withdraw and was suspended for three years. Another disciplinary proceeding that dealt with the failure to withdraw from representation because of impairment is In re Berkos, N. The Administrator of the ARDC filed a two-count complaint charging the respondent with multiple acts of misconduct including fraud, dishonesty, neglect, and unethical conduct.
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The facts of the case reveal that the respondent was treated for depression as a result of litigation over an unsuccessful business venture. For the next two to three years, the respondent was frequently away from his office and his alcohol consumption increased. During this period, the respondent represented a client on charges of aggravated assault and armed robbery. The client was found guilty and the respondent filed a notice of appeal.
Nothing was done on the appeal and the client was never contacted regarding status. The respondent was in and out of the hospital at this time and his secretary acted without his authority or consent by intercepting correspondence and meeting with the client's mother.
The Court found that the respondent failed to adequately supervise his employee and neglected to file either a withdrawal or a substitution of attorney. The Court explained that because the respondent acknowledged that he never followed through with an appeal, he should have withdrawn from the case.
The Court stated that "[h]e must have realized that his failure to withdraw would result in the dismissal of the appeal for want of prosecution. For example, in In re Thomson, the respondent was accused of various forms of client neglect ranging from failure to file petitions to failure to refund fees.
The respondent admitted to the factual allegations but asserted that he was ill and unavailable and that his client files were left with a colleague with instructions to handle the cases. The respondent was an alcoholic for over two decades with variable periods of drinking activity. In latethe respondent had various drinking bouts and eventually went into hospital detoxification.
While in the hospital, the respondent called an attorney with whom he shared his office suite and gave him a list of client matters to attend to. The respondent relapsed many times into and checked himself in and out of treatment programs. Through this entire time, the respondent thought that his client's matters were being handled.
It was recommended that he retain another attorney to make sure that all the legal matters were handled. The respondent however did not file an actual withdrawal with the court or notify the clients of his withdrawal. The Court looked favorably on the fact that the attorney attempted to and finally did receive successful alcohol treatment. More importantly, the Court found that the attorney tried to remove himself from his cases and tried to assure that the caseload was cared for.
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Punishments for failure to withdraw when mentally or physically incapacitated range from simple reprimand to disbarment. Physical and mental incapacity often acts as mitigation when courts are determining proper sanctions. In the case of In re Berkos, the Court looked at the fact that the respondent showed a medical history of physical and mental illness during the pendency of the case and said that the circumstances mitigate what might otherwise have resulted in more severe disciplinary action.
The respondent was suspended for three months and treatment was not recommended or required. By contrast, in more recent cases, punishment often includes requiring drug, alcohol or psychological treatment and proof of rehabilitation.
For example, in In re O'Connor, the respondent was punished with a three-year suspension in light of his current need for treatment and for his impairments. The Court stated that "a suspension alone, without proof of rehabilitation prior to its termination, would not properly protect the public and the integrity of the profession.
Also, in supra In re Thomson, the Court suspended the respondent for three years, stayed the suspension, and placed him on probation for three years. The probation would terminate after three years without further order if the respondent successfully completed his term and met conditions including meeting with probation officers, abstinence from alcohol, and continuing alcohol treatment.
Where the problem is a medical condition or where problematic behavior is caused by a medical condition, the Americans with Disabilities Act may be implicated. The ADA has been construed to include a wide array of problems, including mental difficulties, hearing or visual impairments, and the "disability" of drug or alcohol addiction.
ABA Model Rule 1. Estate of Snyder, N. The relationship is contractual in nature and can only be created by a retainer or offer to retain or fee paid. The attorney-client relationship cannot be created by an attorney alone, nor can it be created by an attorney and a third party who has no authority to act on behalf of a third party.
However, a third party with authority to act on behalf of a third party can create the attorney-client relationship for the benefit of the other. The court held that the defendant, by his conduct, ratified the co-owner's retention of a law firm. Confidential information passed to the attorney during this initial interview may be sufficient to disqualify the attorney from representing an opposing party in related litigation.
See also Bridge Products, Inc. All transactions between an attorney and a client are subject to the closest scrutiny, with particular attention given to contracts made or altered after an attorney-client relationship has been formed. Where an attorney derives a benefit from a transaction with his client, the benefit is presumed to be a result of undue influence. Attorney-client transactions are not void per se, but are merely presumptably fraudulent.
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A client may ratify an attorney-client transaction which is the product of the attorney's undue influence. Sale of stock to client together with attorney's misrepresentation of value of stock constituted fraud and conflict of interest.
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In re March, N. In the attorney-client relationship, the attorney has a duty to act skillfully and diligently on his client's behalf. An attorney commits misconduct warranting discipline when he disregards his client's instructions, fails to represent his client with undivided loyalty, fails to seek a lawful objective of his clients, and acts to protect the interests of third parties. In re Tepper, N. Even when the attorney is discharged by his client prior to the termination of a matter, the attorney is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees under the doctrine of quantum meruit.
In assessing reasonable attorneys' fees under the doctrine of quantum meruit, courts will look at factors such as the time and labor required, the attorney's skill and standing, the nature of the cause and novelty and difficulty of the subject matter, the degree of responsibility in managing a case, and the usual and customary fee in the community and benefits resulting to the client from the attorney's work.