Legal Ethics

Top state court nixes disbarment request of lawyer who admittedly stole $354K

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Saying that more investigation is needed, the Montana Supreme Court has refused a disbarment request by a lawyer who admittedly stole $354,000.

The attorney disciplinary process needs to play out to determine what restitution must be made and establish a factual record concerning any future request for reinstatement by lawyer David McLean, the court ruled unanimously Tuesday in response to his petition for disbarment by consent, the Associated Press reports.

The court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel and Commission on Practice had opposed the disbarment request, arguing that investigation was needed to determine the full scope of McLean’s misconduct.

McLean, who is the father-in-law to the state’s lieutenant governor, admitted stealing $321,866 from clients and another $32,714 more from a legal organization for which he served as treasurer, the AP reports.

McLean and his lawyer said he had sought disbarment in order to speed reimbursement to his former clients by the Montana Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, for which disbarment is a prerequisite.

“He tried to do the right thing to help the clients he harmed,” said McLean’s lawyer, Michael McMahon. “These victims have been victimized again.”

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