On Wednesday, October 11, 2023, Attorney Douglas Kouffie, an attorney licensed to practice in Idaho since 2021, was admonished and placed on six months probation by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Arizona for violations of ethics rules in his representation of an immigration client.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Douglas Kouffie,” with case no. 2023-9048.

The case revolves around the Respondent’s alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct while representing a client in an immigration matter. In September 2021, Kouffie acquired a Phoenix-based law firm, Diamondback Legal, from Gabriel Vadasz. Neither Vadasz nor Kouffie were admitted to practice law in Arizona at the time of the acquisition. The Diamondback website did not note that Kouffie was not admitted to practice in Arizona, leading the client, Adelina Bolognese, to retain Diamondback Legal for an immigration matter on October 28, 2021.

Respondent’s fee agreement with Bolognese provided a flat fee of $11,500, which Bolognese paid by credit card. However, Kouffie allegedly failed to provide competent representation, and Bolognese had to retain successor counsel to correct the visa application packet. Successor counsel reviewed the paperwork prepared by Kouffie and found that it was not usable. Kouffie and Bolognese argued about the accounting for several weeks, and Kouffie eventually provided an accounting that showed the work he performed did not meet the minimum standards of competency.

The State Bar’s expert, Tarik Sultan, opined that Kouffie was grossly overcharged for the services provided. Based on the facts and circumstances, Kouffie conditionally admitted that he violated the Supreme Court Rules.

The parties agreed that the appropriate sanction for Kouffie’s violations was an admonition with probation for six months. As per the conditions of his probation, Kouffie was required to compensate Bolognese and refrain from breaking any further rules outlined in the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Presiding Disciplinary Judge Margaret Downie accepted the agreement and imposed the discipline of an admonition, six months of probation, and ordered Kouffie to pay $11,845 in restitution to Bolognese within 90 days. He was also ordered to pay $1,200 to cover the State Bar’s costs.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.