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Attorneys get public reprimand

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In a disciplinary action released by the Indiana Supreme Court today, the justices held that the text of a 2004 version of the Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(b), as reinforced by Comment 3, required attorneys to promptly distribute undisputed portions of funds they held for clients or third parties. The high court also ruled that an attorney's duty to produce documentation in complying with the duty to render a full accounting to a client includes a full accounting of the attorney's billing statements, including hours spent under hourly contracts.

In the case In the matter of Kevin W. Marshall; In the Matter of C. Jerome Smith, No. 45S00-0606-DI-218, the justices found attorneys Kevin Marshal and C. Jerome Smith, partners in the same firm, violated Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(b) (2004) by failing to promptly release to a client the funds he was owed. The Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand.

Marshall and Smith's client retained Marshall to bring a suit against two insurance carriers. Under the first contract he signed, the client was billed $150 an hour but no further payments were required if the lawsuit was unsuccessful. Marshall told the client in 2004 that he'd have to win at least $300,000 in a jury verdict to cover his legal expenses and had a new contingent contract drawn up. The second contract gave the firm one-third of the gross recovery.

The client received a jury verdict of $1 million; the client was owed $562, 235.62. The client didn't receive a prompt payment and asked for Marshall's billing hours statements. Marshall refused to provide those. Nearly six months after the verdict, the client received the amount he was owed.

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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