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In re Lee

Supreme Court of New Jersey

March 5, 2019

In the Matter of Charles H. Lee

         District Docket No. XIV-2018-0196E

          BONNIE C. FROST, ESQ., CHAIR

          BRUCE W. CLARK, ESQ., VICE-CHAIR

          PEI'ER J. BOYER, ESQ.

          HON MAURICE J. GALLIPOLI

          THOMAS J. HOBERMAN

          REGINA WAYNES JOSEPH, ESQ.

          EILEEN RIVERA

          ANNE C. SINGER, ESQ.

          ROBERT C. ZMIRICH

          ELLEN A. BRODSKY CHIEF COUNSEL MELISSA URBAN DEPUTY COUNSEL TIMOTHY M. ELLIS LILLIAN LEW1N BARRY R. PETERSEN, JR. COLIN T. TAS KATHRYN ANN WINTERLE ASSISTANT COUNSEL

         Dear Ms. Baker:

         The Disciplinary Review Board reviewed the motion for discipline by consent (three-month suspension or such lesser discipline as the Board may deem appropriate) filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to K 1:20-10(b). Following a review of the record, the Board determined to grant the motion. In the Board's view, a three-month suspension is the appropriate measure of discipline for respondent's violations of RPC 1.5(a) (unreasonable fee), RPC 1.5(c) (improper contingent fee), RPC 1.7(a)(2) (conflict of interest, personal interest of the lawyer), RPC 1.8(a) (improper business transaction with the client), RPC 1.15(a) (commingling), RPC 1.15(d) and R, 1:21-6 (recordkeeping violations), RPC 5.5(a)(1) (practicing law while ineligible), RPC 7.5(c) (improper law firm name), RPC 7.5(d) (improper law partnership), RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with ethics authorities), and RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

         In respect of the Board's concern over a potential knowing misappropriation violation, the OAE obtained a certification from respondent's former law partner, Barry Fredericks, Esq. Respondent and Fredericks were partners for about one year in a firm known as Fredericks & Lee, LLP (F&L). Fredericks explained that a $2, 500 payment from respondent, which had raised concern to the Board, represented respondent's repayment to Fredericks of a loan, rather than a distribution of partnership funds. In short, no evidence was adduced that respondent had knowingly misappropriated law firm funds.

         In April 2014, respondent represented Hana Clark and Unji Jeong (the Clark and Jeong matter) in an employment action against United Dental Group, LLC (UDG). On April 23, 2014, the matter settled with UDG agreeing to pay ...


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