The legal community holds attorneys to a high ethical standard. The local bar association often sees over those who practice within the state and, in some cases, a complaint may head to court. In Florida, the Florida Bar recently announced the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 12 attorneys for their unethical behavior regarding the handling of cases, including some foreclosure matters, in the state.
What were the accusations?
According to the court order, the accusations include:
- Failure to follow previous disciplinary ruling. The Florida Bar disciplined one of the disciplined attorneys for his failure to abide by a previous disciplinary revocation.
- Inadequate counsel. The Bar disciplined another for his representation of a husband and wife in a foreclosure proceeding. Although the attorney represented both parties, the lawyer did not communicate with the wife who later stated she was unaware of the foreclosure.
- Failure to separate funds. Another failed to use funds from a client to cover the costs connected to the closing of a property. When the client attempted to sell the property, the sale failed. Instead of putting the money in the escrow trust account, the attorney had the money sent to his operating account and used the funds for other matters.
The Florida Bar administers the disciplinary system for 105,802 members throughout the state. The above court orders are not final until the disciplined attorney fails to file a rehearing motion before the deadline.
What was the punishment?
Of the 12 disciplined attorneys, five were publicly reprimanded, four were suspended, two had their licenses revoked and one was disbarred. Those who are disbarred cannot reapply to practice law for five years. At that point, the are subject to an “extensive process” that includes retaking the Bar exam as well as an intensive background check.
What does this mean for those looking for a real estate attorney?
It is important to find a foreclosure defense attorney in the state that will meet your needs. You can help better ensure you find a good attorney by checking the state or local bar association, asking friends and family for recommendations. Once you have a few candidates, ask about their credentials and previous experience.