Don’t

by Walter Olson on September 22, 2008

More things it would be better to avoid doing if you’re a lawyer:

  • Claim to be assetless and thus unable to make restitution for the largest theft of state money in Massachusetts history even though you live in a $1.5 million Florida house with a $70K BMW and other goodies [Boston Herald, Globe, disbarred attorney Richard Arrighi]
  • Botch appeals and then refrain from telling clients their cases have been lost [Clifford Van Syoc, reprimanded by New Jersey high court; NJLJ; seven years ago]
  • Attempt to deduct “more than $300,000 in prostitutes, p0rn, sex toys and erotic massages” on your income tax returns, even if you are “thought of as a good tax lawyer” [NY Post] Nor ought you to accept nude dances from a client as partial payment for legal fees [Chicago Tribune; for an unrelated tale of a purportedly consensual lap dance given by secretary to partner, see NYLJ back in April]
  • Introduce a patent application purportedly signed in part by someone who in fact had been dead for a year or two [Law.com/The Recorder, Chicago's Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, of blog-stalking fame, client's patent declared unenforceable] Or pursue a patent-infringement case based on what a federal judge later ruled to be a “tissue of lies” [NYLJ; New York law firm Abelman, Frayne & Schwab and lawyer David Jaroslawicz, ordered to pay opponents' legal fees; earlier mentions of Jaroslawicz at this site here, here, here, and here]
  • Demand ransom for a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting [biggest U.K. art theft ever, all defendants have pleaded not guilty, LegalWeek via ABA Journal]

{ 4 comments }

1 Bill Poser 09.22.08 at 6:58 pm

What is the basis for suspending a lawyer for accepting nude dances as partial payment of his fee? There appears to have been no coercion involved: the client was a nude dancer by profession. If he touched her inappropriately, that would be a basis for discipline, but that appears not to be the basis for the suspension. Is the basis some “conduct unbecoming of a gentleman” standard?

2 Bill Poser 09.22.08 at 7:03 pm

Would it be better or worse if the patent application had ACTUALLY been signed by a dead person?

3 Deoxy 09.23.08 at 3:28 pm

Unfortunately, I must agree with Bill – if nude dancing is a legal profession and nude dances are a legal service that is charged for, what legal reason is there for the complaint? If he paid her for her dancing services, then she used that money directly to pay him for his legal services, what’s the problem (and who would ever know?)?

Now, she apparently performed for him in his office, which strikes me as pretty bad judgement on both of their parts, but the previous question still stands.

4 David Wisniewski 09.24.08 at 3:23 pm

Re: Clifford Van Syoc

As a NJ licensed attorney, it sickens me that Van Syoc received just a slap on the wrist (oooooh, he was ‘reprimanded’, oooooh) for his misconduct. Not that I’m surprised, the NJ Attorney Disciplinary Board (as is the board in PA) is very lax and you almost have to kill someone before they will disbar you. I hope his former clients (the ones he screwed) sue the pants off him for malpractice.

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