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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Is Suspended Over Her Marriage to an Elderly Client

Posted Mar 9, 2011 4:59 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Back in 2002, Linda Lowney drafted a will for her client, Thor Tollefsen, that provided for his estate to go to his sister and two nieces in Norway.

But by 2005 the 54-year-old California attorney had become involved with Tollefsen, 85. He gave her $339,000, with his nieces' consent, and the two got married in January 2006, using a confidential license, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Later that year, Tollefsen asked for a divorce, as the couple continued to live separately, and in 2007 he moved into a nursing home and died. Now a State Bar Court judge is calling the marriage a sham and has ordered Lowney, who has been licensed since 1978 and has no prior record of discipline, suspended from practice, the newspaper says.

In a Friday ruling, Judge Pat McElroy said Lowney "took advantage of a lonely, sick old man" and ordered her suspended.

Lowney's lawyer, Jonathan Arons, says McElroy misunderstood the relationship between the two, which was an actual marriage. He says Tollefsen's nieces were paid more than $339,000 in settlement of a civil suit they filed against Lowney.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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