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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2009-1



ALAN HILDRETH KING

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board February 9, 2009.

SUMMARY1


The respondent was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth on June 6, 1978. After July 1, 2004, the respondent maintained an IOLTA account, but he failed to keep adequate records for this account and retained earned fees in the account.

On July 16, 2004, the respondent agreed to give a workerís compensation client an interest-free loan to be repaid from the clientís future benefits. Drawing on a $3,633.33 earned fee from a settlement he had deposited in his IOLTA account two days earlier, the respondent gave the client a check for $1,000 from the IOLTA account. The respondent failed to make an entry for this check in his check register for the IOLTA account, in an individual client ledger, or in any other IOLTA account record.

On July 20, 2004, the respondentís bookkeeper transferred the entire $3,633.33 earned fee from the IOLTA account to the respondentís business account. The bookkeeper had not been informed of and had no record that the respondent had drawn a check to the clientís order on the settlement funds. This transfer was funded in part by other retained fees in the account.

On September 14, 2004, the respondent agreed to make another interest-free loan to the client to be repaid from anticipated workerís compensation benefits. Drawing on a $4,696 earned fee from a settlement he had deposited in his IOLTA account the previous day, the respondent gave the client a check from the IOLTA account for $2,500. Once again, the respondent failed to make any entry for the check. Shortly after September 14, 2004, the respondentís bookkeeper transferred from the IOLTA account to the respondentís business account the entire earned fees from the September 13 settlement deposit. The bookkeeper was unaware that some of this fee had already been withdrawn. To make this transfer, the bookkeeper drew on other earned fees the respondent had retained in the IOLTA account.

In June 2006, the computer system for the respondentís law office crashed, and the respondent asked his accountant to recreate his financial records. During this process, the failure to account for the loans to the client was discovered. The respondent then deposited $3,500 of his personal funds to the IOLTA account to correct the error.

By providing financial assistance to his client in connection with pending litigation, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.8(e). By failing to keep adequate records of his receipt and maintenance of client funds, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(f). By retaining earned fees in his account instead of promptly withdrawing them, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b)(2). By withdrawing earned fees from the IOLTA account by checks payable to his client rather than to himself, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(e)(4). By failing on and after July 1, 2004, to prepare and maintain a proper check register in which all withdrawals and deposits were properly documented, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(f)(1)B. By failing to keep individual client ledgers for each client matter, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(f)(1)C. By failing on and after July 1, 2004, to perform required reconciliations for the account for a period of approximately two years, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(f)(1)E.

This matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand. The Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the partiesí recommendation and imposed a public reprimand.


1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.



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