In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

GC for Midas Parent Company Ratted Out and Suspended

The general counsel for Midas's parent company (TBC Corp.) recently received a two year stayed suspension as a result of another former in-house colleague tipping off authorities in two states. It was alleged and eventually admitted that the TBC GC engaged in the (accidental) unauthorized practice of law. Interestingly, while the GC lives and works in Florida, the suspension was issued from the Supreme Court of the state of Ohio.

The attorney moved from Ohio, where he was licensed, to Florida to take the in-house position with TBC. Somehow, he managed to miss notices that he was out of compliance for his CLE in Ohio and that he had been suspended. And though the first suspension seemed to get resolved without much on his part, a second suspension issued when the conditions for resolving the first went unfulfilled.

The Midas Touch -- a Busy Business Is No Excuse

While the story of King Midas and his golden touch is read to children as a cautionary tale, many adults fail to practice the very simple lesson espoused in the story: placing greed above all else eventually leads to being personally unfulfilled. For lawyers, placing greed above all else can lead to suspensions and getting disbarred.

The TBC GC was able to show the Ohio Supreme Court that he was indeed remorseful, honest and cooperative, but was just really busy and had a lot going on. For example, among the many excuses, his secretary went out on maternity leave early and unexpectedly.  Unfortunately for him, the court did not really find the press of business to be a good excuse for the attorneys administrative failure to maintain his licensure in good standing. Though the book really wasn't thrown at him (seeing as how the suspension was stayed in its entirety). 

In House, Not Out of Touch

It did not help the TBC GC's case that not only was he out of compliance in Ohio, he was also out of compliance in Florida, where he was practicing as a GC. The state bar rules in Florida require GCs and in-house attorneys in the state to either be licensed attorneys in Florida, or get a special certification that permits attorneys licensed elsewhere to practice in house with restrictions.

As you may have guessed, TBC's GC was neither a licensed Florida attorney, nor did he bother to get the special license until he was called out by the Florida bar (which had been tipped off by a former in-house colleague.

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