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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Who Got $50K Monthly Alimony for Client Faces Potential Disciplinary Action re Relationship

Posted Apr 30, 2012 3:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Michigan matrimonial lawyer is facing potential disciplinary action after admitting that a relationship with a client in a high-profile divorce case over a decade ago violated an attorney ethics rule.

Even though Henry Baskin got a very good result for Linda Olson in her divorce from a general contractor and construction company owner John Olson, he admitted to in a Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission stipulation that his conduct nonetheless presented a legal ethics problem, Crain's Detroit Business reports.

Baskin "does not contest that, on the particular facts of this case, his conduct violated (state rules of professional conduct) in that a lawyer could not reasonably believe that the representation might not be adversely affected by the lawyer's personal interests," the stipulation says.

Baskin says he still doesn't believe there actually was a conflict in his representation of Linda Olson, for whom he obtained a $2.1 million home and more than $50,000 in monthly alimony. He also said she signed a waiver concerning that conduct at issue in the ethics case.

However, he admitted that the rule exists, Basin explained, because it does and there is a need for such a rule. Likewise, "an attorney" could have the belief contained in the stipulation.

Robert Edick, who serves as deputy administrator for the grievance commission, said he expects that it will seek a temporary suspension of Baskin's law license.

"We're not alleging that he exploited or coerced the client. The relationship in this case had all the markers of a bona fide romantic relationship, so … there's no easy formula for determining the exact level of punishment," he stated, noting that the suspension he expects the commission to seek "doesn't have to be lengthy."

Baskin is the president of the Baskin Law Firm in Birmingham.

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