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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-98-046

IN RE: ALAN H. SEGAL

S.J.C. Order of Reinstatement entered by Justice Ireland on May 25, 2001. 1
HEARING PANEL REPORT

INTRODUCTION

The Petitioner, Alan H. Segal (hereinafter “Petitioner” or “Segal”), was suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years, effective December 10, 1998. On or about December 11, 2000, Segal filed a Petition for Reinstatement in accordance with Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, Section 18. A hearing was held on March 12, 2001, before a Hearing Panel consisting of Board Members Richard M. Zielinski (Chair), David Rind, M.D. and Janet Kenton-Walker. This Report contains the Panel's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation to the Board and the Supreme Judicial Court.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Petitioner resides at [deleted] Newton, Massachusetts. He is a widower and has two minor dependant children: a son Evan, age 10; and a daughter Jennifer, age 8.

2. Petitioner graduated from Brandeis University in 1970 and from George Washington University Law School in 1973. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in June of 1974.

3. Petitioner began practicing law as a sole practitioner from his Apartment in Quincy, Massachusetts. At that time he was a general practice attorney.

4. Petitioner started doing real estate closings for a Rhode Island client that did refinancings in Massachusetts. He was paid $25.00 per closing.

5. As his practice grew, Petitioner began to do an increasing amount of litigation. In the mid-1970's, he took an MCLE course sponsored by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy at Harvard Law School. Thereafter, Petitioner opened an office in Braintree and he expanded the areas of his general practice to include tort litigation and estate planning.

6. The conveyancing segment of Segal's practice expanded to a national level. Petitioner represented lenders from all over the country who were doing business in Massachusetts.

7. By the mid-1980's Segal's conveyancing practice had grown to a point where he was doing 30-40 closings per week.

8. Petitioner was one of the first conveyancers in Massachusetts to computerize the closing process. As a result, his office was able to conduct a large number of closings in a short period of time.

9. By the mid-1980's Petitioner had approximately 30 people working for him.

10. In the spring of 1987, Petitioner was hired by the Dime Savings Bank of New York as a closing attorney. On behalf of Dime Savings, Petitioner conducted approximately 50 closings on units in a condominium known as Hawthorne Village, located in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

11. It was Petitioner's conduct in connection with the Hawthorne Village closings which eventually led to his 2-year suspension.

12. Segal admitted that he made many mistakes in the manner in which he conducted the Hawthorne Village closings. Large numbers of closings were done simultaneously, and in a short period of time. Segal admitted that it was difficult to maintain control of the situation and to carefully review all of the closing documents.

13. Segal also admitted he made another serious mistake at the closings, in that he should not have given the Seller's attorney large sums of funds to clear certain mortgages from the title. It was Segal's obligation to clear title.

14. On October 1, 1992, Segal was indicted on a number of bank charges stemming from the Hawthorne Village closings.

15. The criminal trial began in January of 1994 and continued until the end of February of 1994.

16. Petitioner's wife suddenly and tragically had a heart attack during the trial and died. She was 39 years old. His children were infants at that time, and Segal was left to care for them on his own.

17. The trial judge in Petitioner's criminal case had dismissed most of the charges during the course of the trial and, on February 25, 1994, the last of the criminal charges was dismissed.

18. During a deposition taken in 1996 in a lawsuit involving a newly constructed house Segal had attempted to buy, he was asked if there was a particular area of the law in which he concentrated as an attorney. He answered “No. General Practice Attorney”. Segal has admitted that he should have disclosed that a major portion of his practice involved real estate. Although the misstatement had no material affect on the outcome of the case, it was not accurate.

19. Disciplinary proceedings as a result of the Hawthorne Village closings were initiated by the Bar Counsel in 1996 and resulted in Segal receiving a two year suspension, effective December 10, 1998.

20. The facts which gave rise to Petitioner's disciplinary violations and ultimate suspension are aptly summarized in the Supreme Judicial Court's Opinion in Matter of Segal, 15 Mass. Attorney Discipline Reports 544 (1999). Although Petitioner continues to dispute several material facts in that Opinion, it is not within the province of the Hearing Panel to revisit those facts, or the disciplinary sanction imposed based on those facts.

21. Following the entry of the order of term suspension, Segal decided to sell his law practice to Mark Gladstone, Esq. Petitioner had known Attorney Gladstone for many years.

22. The initial written notice advising Petitioner's clients of the sale did not comply with the requirements of S.J.C. Rule 1.17. After Bar Counsel pointed out the deficiency, Petitioner sent out another letter in compliance with the Rules.

23. During his suspension Segal has been actively involved in coaching Newton Girls Soccer and Newton Little League Baseball. Both sports have spring and fall programs.

24. Segal's employment during the term of his suspension has included managing real estate properties. In April of 1999, he organized a limited liability company called Ross Enterprises, LLC, located at 109 Highland Ave, Needham, MA 02494. The company performs various services such as Internet Website design, computer software and hardware troubleshooting, and real estate brokerage.

25. Petitioner has studied for and passed the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam. The allowable passing score in Massachusetts is 75, and he received a score of 105. He has also attended the MCLE course entitled “How to Make Money and Stay Out of Trouble”. Petitioner testified that the primary lecturer and author of the course materials for that seminar, James Bolan, has offered to assist Segal in reestablishing his practice upon reinstatement.

26. Petitioner has maintained a subscription to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and to Lawyers Weekly USA, and has kept current in the law by reading each issue as published. In addition, he has received and reviewed the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly daily e-mail alert of important cases.

27. Petitioner has studied the Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct. He has also studied Attorney James Bolan's book “Ethical Lawyering in Massachusetts” and various MCLE Course materials including: “Handling Commercial Loan Transactions”, “E-Commerce Basics for the General Practitioner”, and “Resolving Troublesome Issues of the Experienced Conveyancing Attorney”. Petitioner has also become a member of the Social Law Library and has made extensive use of its online legal databases and legal updates on cases and new laws.

28. If reinstated, Segal plans to be a general practice attorney with an emphasis on real estate, business transactions, and estate planning. He also testified that he hopes to provide consulting services regarding e-commerce and the new electronic signature law.

29. Attorney Henry Barr of 1172 Beacon Street, Newton, Massachusetts testified in support of Petitioner at the reinstatement hearing.

30. Mr. Barr has known Segal's family for most of his life.

31. Mr. Barr retained Segal to do some title work and later to represent him in certain purchases and financing of real estate.

32. Mr. Barr was aware of the Federal Criminal matter that was brought against Segal. He testified as a character witness in that case.

33. Mr. Barr was aware of the Board of Bar Overseers proceedings that were brought against Segal, and had discussions with Segal regarding those proceedings.

34. Segal has expressed remorse to Mr. Barr about the way the Hawthorne Village closings were handled.

35. Based on his experience, knowledge and observations Mr. Barr believes that Segal has the moral qualifications to practice law, as well as the competency and the learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth. Mr. Barr also believes that Segal's resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, administration of justice and the public interest.

36. Lewis Horvitz of [deleted] Braintree, Massachusetts also testified on behalf of the Petitioner.

37. Mr. Horvitz graduated from Bentley College in 1965 and worked for two CPA firms until he formed his own CPA firm in approximately 1980. His practice specializes in law firms.

38. Petitioner is one of Mr. Horvitz's clients. Horvitz has known Segal for 20 years.

39. Mr. Horvitz observed how Segal's trust accounts and IOLTA account were being maintained. He assisted Segal's bookkeeper with some accounting, tax, and management issues.

40. In Mr. Horvitz's opinion, Segal complied with all applicable rules in terms of handling clients and other funds and the general conduct of the office.

41. Mr. Horvitz was aware of the Federal criminal matter and the Board of Bar Overseers proceedings that were brought against Segal. Mr. Horvitz had discussions with Segal regarding those proceedings.

42. Mr. Hortiz had discussions regarding the closings that led to Segal's suspension. Segal expressed remorse to Mr. Hortiz about his conduct in connection with those closings.

43. Mr. Horvitz also made observations regarding Segal's actions and activities during the period of his suspension.

44. Based on his experience, knowledge and observations, Mr. Horvitz believes that Segal has the moral qualifications to practice law and that Segal has the competency and the learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth. Mr. Horvitz also believes that Segal's resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, administration of justice and the public interest.

45. Susan Zuker of [deleted] Newton, Massachusetts also testified on behalf of the Petitioner.

46. Ms. Zuker graduated from University of Miami with a bachelor's degree in education in 1973. After graduation, she was a juvenile probation officer for seven years at the Dedham District Court. She is also Segal's cousin.

47. Ms. Zuker has known Segal all of her life. After her father, a former judge, left the bench he went into law practice with Segal and her brother. Ms. Zuker testified that, in her opinion, Segal has always done right by his family, friends, children, and anyone else whose life he touched. She stated that she holds Segal in high regard.

48. Ms. Zuker was aware of the Federal Criminal matter and the Board of Bar Overseers proceedings that were brought against Segal. She had discussions with Segal regarding those proceedings.

49. Ms. Zuker also had discussions with Segal regarding the closings that led to Segal's suspension. Segal told Ms. Zuker that he had made errors in judgment in those closings and that he felt very bad about those errors in judgment.

50. Ms. Zuker made observations regarding Segal's actions and activities during the period of his suspension. She opined that Segal is a person of the utmost integrity.

51. Ms. Zuker testified that, in her opinion, Segal has the moral qualifications to practice law, and has the competency and the learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth. Ms. Zuker also testified that she believes that Segal's resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, administration of justice and the public interest.

52. James N. Kasper of [deleted] Newton, Massachusetts testified on behalf of the Petitioner.

53. Mr. Kasper graduated with a BA from Brandeis University. He also received a Masters of Fine Arts from Brandeis University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a real estate investor, entrepreneur, occasional venture capitalist with startup businesses, and conducts some brokerage work. Mr. Kasper has had the opportunity to directly observe the legal system and lawyers through his personal and business experiences.

54. Mr. Kasper first met Segal in 1970 at Brandeis University and has known him in a personal and business capacity.

55. Mr. Kasper testified that Segal has a reputation for integrity and for being honest and straightforward in all of his dealings. He stated that he couldn't think of anyone that he would rather speak to for advice than Segal.

56. Mr. Kasper was aware of the Federal Criminal matter involving Segal. He was present in the courtroom during most of the trial as an observer.

57. Mr. Kasper was also aware of the Board of Bar Overseers proceedings against Segal.

58. Based on his experience, knowledge and observations, Mr. Kasper believes that Segal has the moral qualifications to practice law, and has the competency and the learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth. Mr. Kasper also believes that Segal's resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, administration of justice and the public interest.

59. Finally, Gail Levine of [deleted] Randolph, Massachusetts testified on behalf of Segal.

60. Ms. Levine studied at CCNY in New York City. She has been a real estate broker for the last 25 years. She has known Segal in connection with real estate closings at his office and in general regarding real estate for about 15 years.

61. During the past two years Ms. Levine has engaged in two business transactions with Segal. One involved low income housing in Lowell and the other involved land in Foxboro.

62. Ms. Levine testified that Segal was a person of high integrity and was honorable. She also testified that Petitioner would never hurt anybody intentionally or otherwise, and that he was a kind and considerate person.

63. Ms. Levine was aware of the Board of Bar Overseers proceedings that were brought against Segal. She had discussions with Segal regarding those proceedings.

64. Ms. Levine also had discussions with Segal regarding the closings that led to Segal's suspension. As a result of those discussions, Ms. Levine was of the opinion that Segal had regrets about how the closings were handled and that he would have handled them differently if he had the opportunity to do so.

65. Based on her experience, knowledge and observations, Ms. Levine believes that Segal has the moral qualifications to practice law and the competency and the learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth. Ms. Levine also believes that Segal's resumption of the practice of law would not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, administration of justice and the public interest.

66. In addition to the live witness testimony, several letters of recommendation were introduced as exhibits, including a letter from the trial judge who presided at Segal's federal criminal trial.

67. Bar Counsel has not opposed Segal's reinstatement, despite the fact that Segal continues to dispute Bar Counsel's version of the facts which gave rise to his suspension.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. Segal is now eligible to apply for reinstatement pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, Section 18(2)(c).

2. In reinstatement proceedings, the Petitioner has the burden of proving that he has the moral qualifications, competence and learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that his reinstatement will not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, the administration of justice or to the public interest.

3. Based on the foregoing finding of fact and on the testimony, exhibits and other evidence in the record, this Hearing Panel concludes that Petitioner has the moral qualifications, competence and learning in the law required for admission to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and his reinstatement will not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the Bar, the administration of justice or to the public interest.

4. Segal has fully complied with all the terms and conditions of the order imposing suspension and has fully completed the term of suspension.

5. No costs were assessed against Segal by the court pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, Section 23.

6. There was no restitution required to be made as a result of the misconduct.

7. There were no payments required to be made to the Clients' Security Board as a result of the misconduct.

CONCLUSION

The Hearing Panel recommends that Segal's Petition for Reinstatement be allowed, without conditions.

Richard M. Zielinski, Esq. (Chair)
David Rind, M.D.
Janet Kenton-Walker, Esq.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.



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