Interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer today about the problem of attorneys stealing money from elderly clients. The professional liability and attorney ethics implications of the alleged conduct are obvious. Under Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 a lawyer cannot co-mingle a client’s funds with his own. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.14 gives specific guidance on representing clients with diminished capacity. Any such behavior is likely grounds for a breach of fiduciary duty claim as well as a professional liability claim. In terms of legal malpractice avoidance, it is never a good idea to steal from little old ladies. That is conduct frowned upon by judges and juries alike.
The Inquirer article can be found at: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20110428_Law_Review__Why_so_many_financial_crimes_against_elderly_go_unpunished.html
-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire