Law Firms

Embattled lawyer says he can be accused of no more than chutzpah

  • Print.

A lawyer accused of stealing $10,000 from his law firm in Washington state says the money was a “bona fide advance” and there is “no issue of ‘missing money.’ ”

The lawyer, Philip Kong, was charged with felony theft after he asked a client to make out a check directly to him instead of his Bellevue law firm, Desh International & Business Law. He defended his actions in emails sent to, saying he had permission to take the advance.

At worst,” Kong told the publication, “someone could accuse me of chutzpah, but nothing more.”

He tells that he has repaid the advance; managing partner Pradnya Desh, however, says the firm has not been repaid in full.

Kong’s arrangement with the law firm entitled him to keep 40 percent of money collected from DF/Net in its acquisition of a Canadian company, the story says, citing court papers. DF/Net was his only client. When the company made a $17,000 payment, Kong took the advance of $10,200 in addition to $6,800 he was due from the law firm.

Kong, a Harvard law grad, is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and New York, but not in Washington. Kong’s former supervisor at Desh has said he was hired with the understanding that he would obtain a law license in Washington. The firm paid to have the New York license verified for Washington licensing, and licensed lawyers checked Kong’s work, the supervisor said.

Kong disputes that his work was checked. “I took the initiative in parceling out work on the client to other attorneys in the firm who were not busy,” Kong told in email. “The work I asked other attorneys to do consisted mainly of reviewing my drafts for grammatical corrections.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.