Illinois Attorney Censured for Failing to Keep his Disbarred Wife Out of his Office

In June 2014, Ms. Kathleen Niew pled guilty to 10 counts of fraud relating to the handling of her clients’ funds.   Thereafter, in November 2013, Kathleen Niew was disbarred for this misconduct.  Nevertheless, her husband, Stanley Niew allowed her to come into his law offices 4-5 times a week through June 2014.  While in his offices and disbarred, she participated in at least eight client meetings.  As a result, Mr. Niew was censured on two grounds by the Illinois Supreme Court.  The first was allowing his wife to maintain a presence at his law firm despite being disbarred.  The second was for failing to supervise his associate who assisted Ms. Niew in the unauthorized practice of law.

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

Hamilton County Adoption Attorney Receives Public Reprimand For Several Violations of Rules of Professional Conduct

A Hamilton County Indiana adoption attorney was recently publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court for violating Professional Rules of Conduct 1.7 (Conflicts of Interest), 1.8 (Conflicts of Interest), and 8.4 (General Misconduct).  Here, the attorney was hired by a couple to represent them in the adoption of a child.  Before the attorney’s retention, the couple had previously already reached an agreement with the birth mother to allow them to adopt the child.

However, when the attorney contacted the birth mother, she expressed concerns with his current clients and asked the attorney for profiles of other prospective adoptive parents.  Despite representing the couple, the attorney nevertheless showed the birth mother the profiles of other potential adoptive parents.  Eventually the birth mother selected a different couple than the attorney’s original clients. 

The attorney never informed his original clients that the adoptive mother had concerns with them or that he showed her different options until after the decision was made.  Thereafter, the attorney sat down with them to discuss reimbursement of fees the couple advanced to him.  The couple and the attorney appeared to have resolved the issue at this meeting, however, at the conclusion of the meeting, the attorney presented them with a release purporting to bar them from filing a “claim” to the Indiana Supreme Court disciplinary commission.

The attorney erred in this circumstance by failing to disclose to his clients that the birth mother had concerns with selecting them as adoptive parents.  But, the most critical error was then representing the birth mother in her selection of an alternative set of adoptive parents without obtaining consent from the original clients.

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

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