Legal Ethics

Judge vacates sanction against BigLaw partner, notes 'steps for rehabilitation'

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A federal bankruptcy judge who complained in March that a Duane Morris sanctions brief was full of “self-satisfied smugness” is commending a law firm partner for her contrite attitude in fulfilling his sanctions order.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Olson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, vacated the sanction Tuesday against partner Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, saying she has “clearly undertaken steps for rehabilitation.” The Daily Business Review (sub. req.) covered the hearing.

Previously Olson had held Rodriguez-Taseff accountable for a mistaken court filing, barring her from practicing in the Southern District of Florida’s bankruptcy court for 90 days and ordering her to complete 30 hours of ethics training.

Rodriguez-Taseff responded by taking more ethics classes than Olson had required, making $500 donations to a bar foundation and a group that counsels immigrants, volunteering with legal groups, and meeting with opposing counsel in a bid to repair the professional relationship.

Olson had imposed the sanction for a draft order wrongly indicating that Olson had decided a pending motion in favor of a Duane Morris client. The draft order was supposed to say the judge had agreed to a continuance on the issue.

In March, Olson criticized the Duane Morris sanctions brief, which blamed a paralegal for the mistaken order. “The tone of Duane Morris’ pleading in this case reflects what I would conceive of as a self-satisfied smugness, full of self-congratulatory blather—all to the effect that the firm is a great corporate citizen who did nothing wrong in this case,” Olson said at the time.

On Tuesday, Olson said Rodriguez-Taseff was an “admirable person in the community” and she should “go and do good.”

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