Legal Ethics

In Search of Edward T. Kennedy, Florida Lawyer

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Edward T. Kennedy is a New York tax lawyer with Jones Day. He is not the Edward T. Kennedy listed as a partner in an embattled Florida law firm Hess Kennedy.

The New York Kennedy told the Daily Business Review he has no connection to the Coral Springs firm, and that the West Virginia attorney general’s office asked him the same question two months ago.

Apparently no one maintains there is a link to the New York Kennedy, not even Hess Kennedy. The Florida debt settlement law firm claims its Edward Kennedy resides in Brussels and is not a made-up name for Edward Cherry, an investor who is not a Florida lawyer. So far, the Florida Kennedy has not surfaced. But Kennedy’s whereabouts are only part of Hess Kennedy’s troubles.

Florida ethics regulators have accused Hess Kennedy of running a “deceptive debt settlement scheme,” the Daily Business Review Reports. The law firm has also faced lawsuits by Chase Bank and the attorneys general of Florida, North Carolina and West Virginia.

The Florida Bar complaint alleges the law firm’s operation is “designed to extract upfront fees from financially strapped clients whether or not any useful services are performed.” Clients “rarely obtain debt settlements … and end up in a far worse financial position” than before. The complaint also claims name partner Laura Hess is sharing fees with nonlawyers. Hess has denied the allegations.

Cherry is also facing legal problems. A civil suit claims he embezzled at least $600,000 from his previous employer, a charge he denies.

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