Failure to Correct Misstatement Leads to Discipline Action

An Illinois lawyer was given a possible 90 day suspension due to a failure to act.  John Argoudelis was engaged for an estate matter by his client Paul Volgar.  Mr. Volgar approached Argoudelis to perform this work and Volgar stated and attested that he was the sole heir.  Soon after filing the affidavit testifying that there was only a sinlge heir, it was discovered by Argoudelis that Volgar was lying and there were additional heirs.  Argoudelis failed to amend the affidavit.

The panel’s opinion explained that Argoudelis’ action of mildly warning his client that the affidavit should be amended did not go far enough to address the misrepresentation of which Argoudelis was now a part of.  The panel also found that the attorney’s failure to amend the affidavit and take corrective action himself was improper.  The panel recommended a 90 day suspension for Argoudelis’ actions.

This matter points out an important aspect of practicing law – the danger of regulatory investigations.  While a lawyer’s malpractice claim may not develop from the facts of this matter, an investigation did.  Responding to a regulatory investigations can be time consuming, costly and a drain on company resources.  It is important for firms to review their lawyer’s professional liability insurance policy to see how and when such coverage may be triggered.  Each policy is written differently and each provision contains varying clauses which triggers coverage.  Having an broker experienced in the nuances is important to building a sustainable risk management program for any law firm.

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