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Conn. Dismisses Ethics Case Against Total Attorneys

We have written frequently here about the series of ethics complaints filed in some 47 states by by Connecticut lawyer Zenas Zelotes against Chicago-based Total Attorneys and its lawyer-founder Kevin Chern. (See, for example, here, here and here.) Although no state has found ethical wrongdoing by Total Attorneys or by any of the lawyers who participate in it, all eyes were on Zelotes' home state of Connecticut, where the chief disciplinary counsel found cause to file charges against five attorneys. The charges alleged that they were obtaining referrals through and sharing fees with Total Attorneys in violation of legal ethics rules.

Now comes news that the Connecticut charges have been dismissed. On Friday, I received an e-mail from Total Attorneys saying that a three-person panel of the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee dismissed the complaints. According to the e-mail, the panel dismissed the charges at the close of the disciplinary counsel's evidence, before the attorneys were even required to put on their defense. This would suggest that the panel saw no even arguable ethics violation in the case presented by the disciplinary counsel.

More details were provided yesterday by reporter Doug Malan at The Connecticut Law Tribune. The hearing committee issued a summary ruling that offered no insight into its reasoning, Malan said, and will issue a decision within two weeks explaining its ruling. Complaints filed by Zelotes against another seven Connecticut lawyers are likely also to be dismissed, Malan writes.

Meanwhile, Zelotes is not backing away from his assertions that attorneys who participate in Total Attorneys violate ethics rules. He told the Chicago Tribune that he will participate in a hearing this week on his complaints in North Dakota. "This is not the end of the debate in Connecticut and elsewhere," he said.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 20, 2010 at 01:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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