This month saw a well-known Clayton law firm, the Hais Law Firm, embroiled in controversy over the unauthorized use of an opponent’s e-mails in divorce litigation. The case stems from a custody dispute that was conducted before the Hon. Barbara Wallace in St. Louis County in March 2011. At that time, the Court was shocked to find out that the Hais Law firm had used unauthorized e-mails that had been hacked by Hais’ client. Judge Wallace found in her Order that the Haises had knowingly utilized the e-mails and therefore ordered $25,000.00 in monetary sanctions. The Haises appealed the Order and it was reversed by the Missouri Court of Appeals in February 2012.
Notwithstanding the reversal of the sanctions order, the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, the disciplinary arm of the Supreme Court, opened its own investigation into the e-mail charges as well as several other complaints against the Hais Law firm. The case gained notoriety because the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel attempted to conduct the hearing in secret, but Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Missouri and successfully gained access to the rescheduled hearing. The matter has yet to be decided.
The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is the organization sanctioned by the Supreme Court to regulate the discipline and conduct of attorneys. They investigate many situations such as complaints about lawyers’ lack of diligence, lawyers’ mishandling of client funds and lawyers’ candor with the court system. Disciplinary proceedings are now open to the public and if an Information is filed against an attorney, they can face reprimand, suspension or, ultimately, disbarment.
If you think you have been harmed by an attorney that you hired in the past, please contact The Meehan Law Firm and we can discuss your options.
A new development in the representation of divorce clients has been the adoption of evergreen retainer arrangements. Several firms that advertise for domestic litigation, notably Cordell & Cordell, require clients to provide them with unrestricted access to a credit card that automatically renews the retainer to some arranged amount. This is known as an evergreen retainer. The danger in such an arrangement is that it grants a law firm unlimited access to funds and serves as an incentive to generate as many billable hours as possible in order to maximize the retainer. The Meehan Law Firm has been contacted by several individuals making complaints of extraordinarily large legal bills that have been generated under this arrangement.
An example cited to the Meehan Law Firm has been legal bills in excess of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) for simple divorces that do not require extensive discovery.
In these cases, the divorce clients have been charged over Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars
($25,000.00) to investigate simple cases that do not involve complex legal issues, business
valuation, or any other extensive litigation. Instead, the charges typically go for reviewing the file and ordering documents that do not ordinarily need to be ordered.
If you think you have been victimized by an evergreen retainer arrangement and been overbilled by an attorney, please contact the Meehan Law Firm.
Posted in Legal Malpractice
Tagged attorney scam, Cordell & Cordell, credit card retainer, divorce lawyer, domestic litigation, evergreen retainer, Illinois, legal bills, legal malpractice, Meehan Law Firm, Missouri, St. Louis, sue my attorney, sue my divorce lawyer
Stephen Evans, a lawyer who had his office in South St. Louis, pled guilty to fraud through stealing settlement checks belonging to his clients. To read the full story, click here.
In Missouri, as in most other states, the rate of divorce has been dropping steadily, but that is cold comfort if you find yourself going through one. And if you are, you still have plenty of company: according to CDC data, there were 2,389 divorces a day in the U.S. in 2010 – a total of 872,000.
Some divorces are simple and amicable, and handled without attorneys. But the vast majority of people who have been married for more than a few years face complicated situations involving alimony, the division of property and custody. Because it is difficult to untangle lives, both financially and emotionally, an experienced divorce attorney can be a level-headed guide to the process at a time when you may be more focused on the new life ahead of you. Continue reading
A new commercial driver safety report indicates transportation companies are processing more applicants than ever to contend with a driver shortage. In fact, the number of driver verifications tripled in the first half of 2012 over the prior year.
The American Trucking Association claims the driver shortage the industry is now experiencing — about 20,000 to 25,000 — could jump to as high as 239,000 in just 10 years. Ironically, the driver shortage may be a result of increased regulation at the federal and state level to address safety issues. Continue reading
In a domestic dispute, nothing can be more frightening than facing false domestic assault charges. Domestic abuse claims are taken into consideration during legal separation, divorce and custody proceedings, and they are often used as a strategy for one party to gain the upper hand.
Fighting Back Against False Charges
One of the biggest criticisms of the legal system that addresses domestic abuse is the frequency in which false allegations of abuse are made to seek an advantage in divorce and custody proceedings. If you find yourself the victim of false allegations from a bitter spouse or ex-spouse, you need to take immediate counter-action. Start out by consulting a lawyer to help you with these critical first steps. Continue reading
The State of Missouri protects all injured workers. Missouri requires that any employer with five or more employees must carry insurance for workers’ compensation. In addition, construction employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least one employee.
By law, if an employer fails to carry workers’ comp insurance is guilty of a misdemeanor. An employer can face fines up to $50,000 and will be reported for fraud to the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Missouri employers with five or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as a self-insured. Construction industry employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage if they have one or more employees.
In their August 20, 2012 issue of Missouri Lawyers Weekly, said state-wide publication recognized the Meehan Law Firm’s successful prosecution of a legal malpractice case against the St. Louis law firm of Sandberg, Phoenix and Von Gontard. In the first-of-a-kind case, the Meehan Law Firm successfully represented an insurance company, American Alternative Insurance Company, which claimed it had been damaged by the negligent representation of the two Missouri lawyers in connection with the wrongful death lawsuit. In the underlying lawsuit, American Alternative Insurance Corporation had hired Howard Becker, of Sandberg, Phoenix and Von Gontard, and James Broshot, to represent their insured in a wrongful death case filed in Phelps County, Missouri. During the trial of the matter, the lawyers failed to properly disclose all applicable insurance and, after discovering the additional policy, the plaintiffs sought sanctions which resulted in a default judgment against the insurance company. Thish exposed the insurance company to greater damages. Continue reading
There comes a time when an adult parent turns to a nursing home to provide a loving and caring home for an elderly loved one. Unfortunately, some nursing homes have been known to take advantage of their residents’ vulnerable state.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can occur in many forms. While living in a nursing home, senior citizens can be abused physically, sexually, and verbally. Some abuse is obvious, such as hitting a resident. But others are less well known to the public, such as neglect, false imprisonment and financial abuse. Continue reading
Developments in technology have certainly made communication easier for businesses, but technology has also caused a spike in federal crime ranging from computer crimes or hacking to cyber terrorism.
U.S. Federal Criminal Justice System
The federal criminal system is in many ways like the state system, but it has some important differences that could impact the outcome of a case. One key difference is the United States Attorney’s office, responsible for the prosecution of federal criminal charges, has significantly more time and manpower to direct towards any specific case than would a state prosecutor. Continue reading