A New Jersey attorney who didn’t obey a court order to reconcile his trust account monthly and then mistakenly deposited $20,000 of trust account funds into his business account, was reprimanded by the state high court.
The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed on April 7 its disciplinary review board’s conclusion that Lawrence B. Sachs’ conduct merited a reprimand.
The East Brunswick, N.J., lawyer has had a “lengthy, although not unblemished, legal career,” the board said in December.
In 2009, Sachs was reprimanded for commingling earned legal fees and trust funds and failing to promptly deliver funds to clients, the board said. He was required to report quarterly to the state attorney ethics office as to “his progress in identifying and returning client funds left in his attorney trust account,” the board said.
He was temporarily suspended in 2015 for failing to comply with these requirements, it said. He was reinstated in March of that year but reprimanded the following September “for gross neglect, lack of diligence, and failure to communicate.”
In 2018, Sachs self-reported a discrepancy caused by the “inadvertent” deposit of the $20,000, the board said. The money was for two different client closings. He corrected it by depositing that amount into his trust account but not before one of the checks cleared and “invaded other client funds,” it noted.
The board also said that Sachs didn’t reconcile his account monthly but quarterly when it was due with the ethics office, and that he stipulated that he violated a couple provisions of the rule on safekeeping property.
“A reprimand may still result even if the attorney has a disciplinary record that includes a prior record-keeping violation or other ethics transgressions,” the board said.
Mitigating factors include that Sachs notified the ethics office about the mistake once it was discovered, took prompt action to transfer funds into his trust account, and cooperated fully with the office, it said.
It concluded a reprimand was appropriate but that the conditions to which Sachs agreed—conducting the required monthly reconciliations and participating in a trust and business accounting course, in addition to the annual CLE requirements—"are not necessary to protect the public.”
The case is In re Sachs, N.J., No. 083788, 4/7/20.
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