Most divorce lawyers are extremely hard-working individuals who want nothing more than to help spouses in need. These legal professionals often work long hours in their attempts to help their clients walk away from marriages in the most financially secure manner. However, there are always a few “bad apples” in the legal world, and divorce law is certainly no exception. On a fairly regular basis, lawyers are disciplined for serious instances of misconduct – and many of these stories are quite shocking.
This shows how important it is for spouses to assess potential lawyers very carefully before choosing representation. Finding a reliable divorce lawyer is not always easy, but it is often worth spending that little bit of extra research time to avoid dealing with the wrong lawyer. As you will see, the consequences for spouses can be quite significant if they make a bad choice.
Lawyer Does Nothing to Help Client, Leaves Her Destitute
In July of 2022, it was reported that a lawyer in British Columbia had done virtually nothing to help his client – despite the fact that a settlement would have been exceedingly easy to acquire. These actions left the client without a penny, and these actions are even more shameful when you consider the fact that this woman had mental health issues and was suicidal even before she approached the divorce attorney.
He also pressured the client into accepting what a judge later described as an “absurdly unfair and unjust retainer” which amounted to 20% of the settlement. He then negotiated a settlement without ever meeting or consulting with her and misappropriated almost $1 million, spending the funds on a trip to Las Vegas with his entire staff.
The lawyer then handed his client about $18,000. Obviously, this resulted in serious discipline once it was exposed, and he was ordered to pay back almost $900,000. In addition, he was ordered to pay the cost of his own investigation, which amounted to about $60,000.
Lawyer Tells Client to Sell Her Furniture in Order to Pay Her
Another interesting case comes from the Colorado Supreme Court, which involved a lawyer accepting a tax refund check of almost $48,000 from a client in order to cover legal costs. While the lawyer claimed that this was a common practice, the Supreme Court took a very different view, stating that it was a “selfish and dishonest move.” She was also accused of concealing the existence of the check to her client’s husband.
Issues began to arise when the lawyer and her client agreed upon a monthly payment plan. When the payment stopped coming in and the client’s American Express card was cut off by her ex-husband, things became desperate. The lawyer instructed the client to start selling off her furniture, even showing her how to create advertisements on Facebook.
She then sent an email to her client that read:
“You do not have a choice as to whether you pay me in full. To me, my bill is the highest priority over your sprinkler bill, school supplies, or otherwise. It should be for you as well, as I will cease representing you.”
It was at this moment that the client brought the lawyer the tax refund check, which was payable to both spouses. The lawyer then took funds for the check for herself without ever informing the husband of its existence.