17 July 2018 at 09:54 BST

Lawyers behaving badly

Three instances of 'gross Incompetence,' sexual misconduct and assault tarnish reputation of the legal profession from courts to the law school.


Gross negligence, sexual misconduct and an assault by a visitor to a law school demonstrate the law is a difficult profession to negotiate, and tarnish the profession’s standing. In the first, the Supreme Court of New York sanctioned lawyer Daren Allen Webber due to ‘gross incompetence and negligence’ in handling debtors’ bankruptcy matters before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Mr Webber's incompetent representation of bankruptcy clients included filing incorrect or incomplete documents, missing or being late to meetings with creditors, failing to communicate with his clients, and missing deadlines. He also violated the rules on lawyer advertising by putting the seal of a more prestigious law school New York University instead of his alma mater New York Law School. He also failed to include a disclaimer that his statement about hundreds of did not guarantee future success. Though lawyer advertising rules are mentioned often in bar association ethics opinions, it is relatively rare that lawyers are disciplined for violations. Mr Webber has been indefinitely suspended.

Lawyer fondled by client

In Ohio, a lawyer who engaged in sexual misconduct with his client in a courthouse conference room has been suspended for up to two years by the Supreme Court of Ohio. During the case, Mr Benbow and his client exchanged messages of a sexual nature via text and on Facebook, including explicit photos, and during a lunch with his client he ‘kissed her and touched her breast.’ There was also touching in court when the client fondled Mr Benbow which only ended when Mr Benbow’s phone rang and the judge’s orders were delivered. Troubles mounted when Mr Benbow purported to self-report his conduct to the Columbia Bar Association, but then misrepresented his relationship with the client and denied any alleged misconduct. Mr Benbow violated several of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, the court said.

Sexually Assault at law school

And misconduct starts early, as a visitor to Gonzaga Law found out. A woman visiting Gonzaga Law in Spokane, Washington, was groped and kissed by an unknown assailant at about 11.15 am as she walked through the law school building. The Gonzaga Bulletin reports a man lured the woman toward him and said he needed a hug and then assaulted her. However, the suspect is not affiliated with GU and fled the building before campus police was contacted. The bulletin stated: ‘If an experience like that isn’t enough to make you cross a law school off your application list, we don’t know what is. Gonzaga Law students must remain vigilant, because while police were notified, this fellow still hasn’t been caught. Stay safe.’


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