Law Firms

Suit Claims Former Partners of Dissolved Law Firm Won't Leave

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Former partners of a dissolving New York law firm are embroiled in a legal battle that has one side claiming the other is using the offices rent free at the expense of law firm creditors.

The firm, Arkin Kaplan Rice, did not have a written partnership agreement, according to allegations in the suit reported by the New York Law Journal. Ronald Minkoff, a partner at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz who represents lawyers in partnership disputes, tells the publication that it is “unusual in this day and age” not to have a partnership agreement.

Not so unusual, he says, are disputes over the use of office space and billable time by former partners.

The suit (PDF) was filed in Manhattan earlier this month in by lawyers Stanley Arkin and Lisa Solbakken on behalf of their former firm. Named as defendants are Howard Kaplan and Michelle Rice and their new firm, Kaplan Rice. The complaint seeks the ouster of Kaplan Rice from Arkin Kaplan’s offices and an accounting of billable hours.

“Contrary to the way Kaplan and Rice have acted, AKR is not a carcass to be picked clean by its partners,” the suit says. “It appears that their strategy is to stay in AKR’s space without paying any rent for as long as they can, deriving the huge benefit of rent free operations for them and their new firm, at AKR’s expense, and the expense of AKR’s creditors.”

A lawyer for Kaplan Rice maintained in a letter to AKR’s sublandlord that law firm partners in New York are allowed to use rented space and other assets of a dissolving firm during the wind down. Kaplan said in a statement provided to the New York Law Journal that he believes the allegations “will be shown to be baseless and pointless.”

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