Attorney Markis Miguel Abraham of Jersey City represented an elderly client in connection with certain real estate transactions and the sale of multiple properties, including a bar. He also represented her in the defense of two lawsuits which stemmed from the ownership of the bar.
Abraham became friendly with his elderly client, and told her that he and his wife wanted to invest in real estate. The client offered him a $140,000 loan. Abraham initially refused the loan, but then accepted it, without advising his client, in writing, to seek the advice of independent counsel.
Upon receiving the funds, Abraham commingled the money with funds in his attorney trust account. He then transferred the money to a personal account. Abraham signed a promissory note with terms of repayment within a year, but then defaulted on that note. In a separate aspect of the professional relationship, Abraham, also permitted two separate default judgments to be entered against the same client because of multiple lapses by the attorney.
In 2018, the elderly client became unable to manage her personal affairs, and a guardian was appointed to act on her behalf. The client was in need of Medicaid, but was unable to qualify for Medicaid benefits because of the outstanding loan to Abraham. In 2019, the client died, and her estate was left with a large bill related to her medical care.
Abraham was subject to a random audit by the Office of Attorney Ethics (“OAE”) sometime after the loan was made. The audit uncovered Abraham’s improper acceptance of the loan from the client, his improper bookkeeping, as well as his failures with respect to his elderly client’s legal cases.
The OAE referred the matter to the Disciplinary Review Board (“DRB”).1 The DRB found that Abraham committed ethics violations by accepting the loan without written advice to seek outside counsel and by commingling the funds, contrary to multiple Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPC’s”). The DRB also found that Abraham had failed to perform the legal services for which he was retained in the civil matters against his client.
The DRB suspended Abraham for a period of three months and rendered him subject to multiple conditions upon application for reinstatement. This obviously impacted the attorney, but the problems here extended to the client and her estate as well. Because of the attorney’s actions, the client accumulated a large debt to her medical providers which became her estate’s responsibility on her passing. Presumably, the estate also had to address two pending lawsuits in which Abraham had left in a precarious position. Most certainly, the estate has a legal malpractice action to bring against Abraham.
The takeaways from Mr. Abraham’s professional misconduct is that attorneys must handle a client’s finances (and other legal matters) in strict accordance with the RPC’s, and that the repercussions of the attorney’s failure to adhere to the RPC’s go beyond the attorney’s licensing status. The failure of an attorney to adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct have real life consequences for clients, who may be damaged and therefore may have recourse in a legal malpractice suit against the attorney.
Contact Our Hackensack Legal Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve suffered harm due to your lawyer’s actions, you may be entitled to file a New Jersey legal malpractice claim. However, succeeding in a New Jersey legal malpractice claim can be difficult without the assistance of an experienced Hackensack legal malpractice attorney. At Rosenblatt Law, our experienced attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of your situation and determine whether your attorney’s actions or inactions constitute legal malpractice. We’ll then advise you on the best course of action based on your unique circumstances and work diligently to achieve a successful outcome in your New Jersey legal malpractice case. If you believe you have been harmed by your attorney, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
- In re Abraham, 2022 N.J.LEXIS 359 (2022).