• August 12, 2016

GunslingerUpdate (August 12, 2016): Although Susan Humiston, the new director at the Minnesota Board of Professional Responsibility, seems to be making great strides at speeding up the system, it remains concerning that the discipline of Mr. James C. Duchon took as long as it did (see below and the linked petition of discipline).

What is even more stunning is that Mr. Duchon, a suspended lawyer with a publicly accessible discipline record, was able to use the internet to attract several clients as you will note in the attached petition.

The internet is our 21st century analog to the Wild West, a vast ungoverned expanse in which rogues, charlatans, and scammers creep in and out of our virtual communities to fleece vulnerable people.

Without infringing every person’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech, can Minnesota lawyers and those who work with them (legislators, judges, bar associations, or others) do anything eradicate schemers who attract Minnesota clients with slick websites that tout non-existent legal expertise?

Less egregious but more pervasive and arguably more impactful than suspended lawyers luring unwitting clients, we have lawyers with little or no expertise in anything other than SEO (search engine optimization) taking business away from qualified but less tech-savvy lawyers.


HourglassOriginal post (February 15, 2016) (under headline: What is Wrong With The Minnesota Board of Professional Responsibility?): On September 4, 2014, as required by Minnesota rules of professional conduct for lawyers, I reported an ethics violation to the lawyers’ board: I reported the unauthorized practice of law by a suspended lawyer.

I provided the name of the wrong-doer, his address, contact information, evidence of an engagement letter that he provided when suspended from practice, evidence of receipt of payment for “legal services” he purported to provide when suspended, and information about the client whom I believe was ill-served by the suspended lawyer.

That was 1 year, 5 months, and 10 days ago.

Minnesota Lawyer’s Board is still investigating the complaint. In fact, a Board investigator contacted the client this past week requesting the information that I provided them 1 year, 5 months, and 10 days ago and additional information about the outcome of the case that the suspended lawyer “helped” with.

I think it is a sad joke. Why the delay? Why the inquiry into how good or bad job he did when he practiced law with a suspended license? Practicing law without a valid license, by the way, is a crime, whether or not done competently (and, in this case, I believe it was not).

The suspended lawyer, by the way, maintained a website advertising his services while suspended. Why shouldn’t he (and others like him)? Who’s to stop them, before they break the rules or, apparently, after?

If this is a matter of inadequate funding or staffing at the Lawyers’ Board, perhaps someone should bring some attention to the problem?

If this is not a matter of inadequate funding or staffing, what is the problem?

I would appreciate any insights or explanations. I think Minnesotans need and deserve more timely and effective regulation of Minnesota lawyers.

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