IN THE MATTER OF AILEEN MERRILL SCHLISSEL AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: April 19, 2018
Docket Nos. XIV-2015-0456E; XIV-2016-0247E; and
A, Glyn appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.
Respondent did not appear for oral argument, despite proper
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(d)
and R. 1:21-6 (recordkeeping violations),
RPC 5.5(a) and R. 1:21-1B(a)(4) (unauthorized
practice of law for failure to maintain professional
liability insurance), RFC 8.1(b) (failure to comply
with a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary
authority), and RFC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to
the administration of justice, based on her failure to file
an affidavit of compliance in accordance with the R.
1:20-20). For the reasons expressed below, we determine that
a three-month suspension is warranted. We do not agree,
however, on whether the suspension should be prospective or
was admitted to the New Jersey and New York bars in 1997, and
the Nevada bar in 2008. She was temporarily suspended,
effective March 8, 2017, for failure to cooperate with the
OAE's investigation in this matter. In the Matter of
Aileen Merrill Schlissel, 228 N.J. 161 (2017).
case involves respondent's failure to cooperate with the
OAE for more than one-and-one-half years. Following two
overdrafts in her trust account, she failed to produce
records she was required to maintain under R.
1:21-6, despite the OAE's numerous requests, the granting
of extensions, and scheduled audits. As mentioned above,
respondent's failure to cooperate eventually led to her
temporary suspension. In the interim, she also failed to
reply to an additional grievance.
owned and operated AMS Legal Group PC (AMS), located in
Rutherford, New Jersey, with offices in California and
Nevada, as well as Merrill & Associates (Merrill), also
with offices in California and Nevada. Both law firms were
primarily engaged in mortgage modifications, even though
respondent is not licensed as a debt adjuster in any
jurisdiction. Respondent admitted that she had not obtained
is also associated with the law firm of Malkin &
Associates Attorneys Corp. (Malkin). Arthur Malkin, Esq.'
is the principal owner of Malkin. Respondent was a signatory
on the Malkin business and trust accounts. She maintained
four business accounts and one trust account at Bank of
America for AMS, and three business accounts and one trust
account at Wells Fargo Bank for Malkin.
16, 2015, a $370.91 overdraft occurred in the Bank of America
AMS trust account. Before docketing the matter for an
investigation, the OAE attempted to obtain respondent's
explanation for the overdraft. She did not reply, however, to
the OAE's July 28 or August 17, 2015 requests- for a
written, documented explanation for the overdraft.
by letter dated August 18, 2015, Bank of America notified the
OAE of another overdraft in the AMS trust account, in the
amount of $958.85.
August 25 to October 8, 2015, the OAE sent four additional
letters to respondent, seeking written explanations for the
overdrafts, to no avail. Therefore, by letter dated November
23, 2015, sent to respondent's New Jersey and California
addresses, the OAE notified respondent that, because she had
not replied to its six earlier letters, the OA1 had scheduled
a demand audit on December 16, 2015. Respondent failed to
appear for the audit.
January 5, 2016, the OAE telephoned respondent, at which time
she admitted receiving the OAE's correspondence, but
asserted that Arthur Malkin, Esq. ran the New Jersey law
office. The following day, respondent wrote to the OAE that
she was "eager to fully explain all of the events that
occurred in 2015," but still did not supply the records
that the OAE had requested.
respondent again failed to produce the records that the OAE
requested in yet ...