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N.Y. Lawyer Suspended for Personal Use of Client Funds (Correct)

Feb. 10, 2022, 11:02 PMUpdated: Feb. 28, 2022, 8:52 PM

A transactional attorney working in New York will be suspended for one year after he deposited client funds designated for his law firm into his personal account and used them for personal expenses, a New York appeals court held Thursday.

Yoram Keinan, who focused primarily on tax law, joined an unspecified firm as a non-equity “contract” partner who wouldn’t receive compensation for firm work directly from clients. After he learned his contract would not be renewed, he took in $9,405 in checks made payable directly to him. He then received four additional checks, totaling $47,389, and deposited them into his personal account, according to the court.

The firm discovered Keinan’s conduct prior to his 2018 departure, and he made full restitution. He later admitted, among other things, that he engaged in “conduct involving dishonest, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the appeals court ruling says.

The Attorney Grievance Committee and Keinan ultimately agreed to a one-year suspension from the practice of law, citing mitigating factors including that he was going through a contested divorce. The court also said that no client was harmed as a result of the misconduct.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, found that the one-year suspension was appropriate. It directed Keinan to participate in the New York City Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program.

Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Troy K. Webber, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Peter H. Moulton, and Manuel J. Mendez joined in the decision.

Keinan is represented by Hal R. Lieberman.

The case is Matter of Keinan, N.Y. App. Div., 1st Dep’t, No. 2020-04139, 2/10/22.

(Corrects in Feb. 11 story representation information in seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcAfee@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com