The trust fund and trust account rules are designed to safeguard client funds from the serious risk of loss or misappropriation, whether through carelessness or design. (See In the Matter of Jones (Review Dept. 1993) 2 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 411.) The amount of client trust funds that an attorney mishandles goes to the issue of discipline, not culpability, and the mishandling of even an insignificant amount can constitute a disciplinable offense. (See In the Matter of Respondent K (Review Dept. 1993) 2 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 335.) No de minimis exception applies to the determination of culpability for mishandling trust funds.
The duty to keep client’s funds safe is a personal obligation of the attorney which is nondelegable. (In the Matter of Robins (Rev. Dept. 1991) 1 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 708; See also Palomo v. State Bar (1984) 36 Cal.3d 785.) The purpose of keeping proper books of account, vouchers, receipts, and checks is to be prepared to make proof of the honesty and fair dealing of attorneys when their actions are called into question. (Dixon v. State Bar (1985) 39 Cal.3d 335; See also Clark v. State Bar (1952) 39 Cal.2d 161.) The failure to keep proper books of accounts, vouchers, receipts and checks is a breach of an attorney’s duty to his clients. (Weir v. State Bar (1979) 23 Cal.3d 564.) An attorney’s failure to keep adequate records warrants discipline. (Fitzsimmons v. State Bar (1983) 34 Cal.3d 327.)
If you are facing an ethical issue or you have acted in a manner that you believe may be ethically suspect or worse you are facing a client’s State Bar Complaint, help is just a phone call away. Call someone who understands how to approach ethical issues. Call someone who can guide you to competently complete your professional responsibility obligations. Call someone who knows the State Bar discipline system from stem to stern. Call Ashod Mooradian now.
You will get the advice you need and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your ethical, professional responsibility or State Bar matter is being handled by an expert. Contact me today.