Legal Ethics

Ohio Lawyer's License Is Suspended for Mishandling Client Funds

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An Ohio lawyer has been indefinitely suspended for mishandling client funds.

The Ohio Supreme Court held Thursday that Columbus lawyer Percy Squire failed to keep client funds separate from his own money and kept no records as to how he was using client money that had been entrusted to him, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Ohio Disciplinary Counsel Jonathan E. Coughlin said the lack of records made it difficult to determine how much money is missing and how much may have eventually been returned to various client accounts. But he said that at least $33,000 Squire received on behalf of one client is unaccounted for.

Squire admitted he was a bad bookkeeper but insisted he never stole any money from clients.

“I make no claim that the manner in which I managed my affairs have complied with the requirements under the code,” he said at a hearing in April. But “the suggestion that there was theft is totally baseless.”

While Squire had no history of prior disciplinary problems, the court’s four-judge majority said he acted with a selfish or dishonest intent, engaged in multiple violations involving multiple clients, failed to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his actions and knowingly made false or misleading statements to disciplinary authorities.

But three judges felt an indefinite suspension was too harsh. They agreed with the two-year suspension that had been recommended by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline.

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