IN THE MATTER OF ALI A. ALI AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: April 19, 2018
waived appearance for oral argument.
HoeChin Kim appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney
A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel
C. FROST, CHAIR
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a disciplinary stipulation between
the Office of Attorney Ethics
(OAE) and respondent.
Respondent stipulated to having violated RPC 1.15(a) (failure
to hold separate property of clients or third persons from
the lawyer's own property); RPC 1.15(d) (recordkeeping
violations); RPC 7.5(a) (improper use of a
professional designation that violates RPC 7.1 [RPC 7.1(a)
provides that a lawyer shall not make false or misleading
communications about the lawyer, the lawyer's services,
or any matter in which the lawyer has or seeks a professional
involvement]); RPC 7.5(e) (improper use of a trade
name); and RPC 8.1(b) and R. 1:20-3(g)(3) (failure
to reply to a lawful demand for information from a
suggested that respondent's conduct warrants a reprimand.
Respondent agreed with that suggestion. We determine to
impose a three-month suspension.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 2009. He maintains a
law practice in Princeton, New Jersey.
2013, respondent entered into an agreement in lieu of
discipline (ALD), but did not comply with its requirements,
hoping that the matter would "slip through the
cracks" and would go undetected by the OAE. As a result,
the district ethics committee filed a complaint against him,
which resulted in a 2017 reprimand. Respondent was guilty of
lack of diligence and failure to expedite litigation for
failing to attend various court sessions, including
court-ordered appearances, and leaving his client in court,
when the client's case was about to be called, without
notifying the court or seeking leave to do so. He also failed
to file a substitution of attorney, and engaged in an ex
parte communication with a judge. His behavior was
also deemed to be conduct prejudicial to the administration
of justice for, among other things, disobeying court orders
and being unreachable to the court, his adversary, and
substitute counsel. In all, respondent was guilty of
violating RFC 1.3, RPC 3.2, RPC 3.4(c), RPC
3.5(b), and RPC 8.4(d).
found a number of aggravating factors including: (1)
respondent's lack of contrition, remorse, or
understanding that he had engaged in misconduct; (2) his lack
of understanding of the function of a mentor; and (3) his
outsourcing work to paralegals outside of New Jersey to
minimize his contact with clients in order to maximize his
time for rainmaking and spending time with family.
addition to reprimanding respondent, the Court ordered that
he (1) practice under the supervision of an OAE-approved
proctor; (2) complete a Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
course in law office management; and (3) complete two ethics
courses in addition to those required of all attorneys for
CLE credit. In re Ali. 231 N.J. 165 (2017).
stipulation of facts described in great detail
respondent's failure to cooperate with the OAE and
recordkeeping violations, among other ethics improprieties.
relevant time, respondent maintained trust and business
accounts at TD Bank, which were designated as "Law
letter dated February 16, 2016, TD Bank notified the OAE of a
February 11, 2016 overdraft in respondent's trust
account. Although respondent had only $4, 351.77 in the
account, he issued two checks totaling $4, 534.43 (number 103
for $3, 037.03 and number 104 for $1, 497.40), which created
a $182.66 trust account shortage when the checks were
negotiated. TD Bank returned check number 104, credited $1,
497.40 to the trust account, and charged the account a $35
overdraft fee, which left a $1, 279.74 balance in the
letter to respondent, dated February 25, 2016, the OAE
demanded a written explanation and supporting documentation
for the overdraft, by March 11, 2016. In a March 14, 2016
fax, respondent maintained that he had accidentally issued a
check from his trust account, rather than his business
account; obtained reversal of the $35 overdraft fee; and