ARDC Panel Recommends Suspension of Attorney who Mishandled Clients' Property

An Illinois ARDC Hearing Board Panel slapped a Springfield attorney with a recommendation that she be suspended for at least one year due to her mishandling of client funds.  Specifically, this Springfield attorney was retained in 2016 by a client to help modify a child custody order and was provided a $1,500 retainer.  The attorney deposited these funds in her business account instead of a separate client trust account.  The client asked the attorney on several occasions for a detailed billing statement and update on the case. But, the attorney failed to respond to these requests.  Ultimately, the attorney was fired and failed to return the retainer to the client. 

Similarly, in another matter, the attorney was retained to help modify a visitation and custody order and was paid an advanced fee of $1,500.  The attorney deposited these funds in her business account opposed to a client trust account again.  The panel commented in its report, “[i]t is disturbing that an attorney who has practiced law for more than 30 years and has represented ‘many clients’ has never recognized her need for a client trust account or recognized that the advance payment for fees, such as those made by [these clients] must be deposited into a trust account.”

The hearing board panel also found that the attorney violated Rule 8.4(c) because she lied under oath that she returned the $1,500 retainer to the client in the 2016 matter.  The matter is In re Babette Pauline Salus, 16 PR 127.

Alex Passo and the Paterson Law Firm, LLC handle legal malpractice actions throughout Illinois and Indiana.  If you have a legal malpractice case that you would like to discuss with Alex, you can reach him at (312) 750-1820 or