On Thursday, November 9, 2023, the Iowa Supreme Court Disciplinary Board reprimanded Attorney Ronald E. Langford for ethics violations.

The case is titled ‘Iowa Supreme Court Disciplinary Board v. Ronald E. Langford’ with case no. 23-167.

The infraction involves multiple violations of trust accounting rules relating to deficient record-keeping, misappropriation of client funds, and failure to provide the necessary notice and accounting to at least one client upon withdrawing fees.

In 2021, Langford underwent a routine audit of his client trust account by the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board. The audit was referred to the Board by the Client Security Commission after issues were discovered during their review.

The auditor found several violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct and Court Rules Governing Trust Accounts. Specifically in March 2017 and again in 2018, the auditor had provided written notice to Attorney Langford advising him of the requirement to perform a monthly three-way reconciliation of his trust account. However, when reviewing records from 2021, the auditor discovered Attorney Langford had failed to perform these monthly reconciliations as required.

Furthermore, Attorney Langford did not maintain proper accounting records for his trust account as required. He was missing a check register, accurate client subaccount ledgers, copies of checks and deposit records, and records of electronic transfers.

Most troubling, the audit revealed a significant shortage of over $5,000 in Attorney Langford’s trust account as of June 2020. This was due to eight client subaccounts containing negative balances, showing Attorney Langford had prematurely withdrawn fees that had not yet been earned. In doing so, he had misappropriated funds belonging to other clients.

Additional violations were found. Earned fees remained commingled in the trust account for over a year past the matter’s close dates. Funds from Attorney Langford’s role as executor of his mother’s estate were also kept in the trust account, even though he was not representing the estate as an attorney.

The audit also discovered Attorney Langford failed to provide the required notice and accounting to at least one client upon withdrawal of earned fees from the trust account. Further, on his annual Client Security Questionnaires from 2019-2021, Attorney Langford provided untruthful answers about performing the required monthly reconciliations.

In August 2023, the Board conducted a hearing and determined Attorney Langford should receive a public reprimand for his violations of the rules regarding trust account maintenance and use, responsibility for non-lawyer staff, and providing dishonest answers. He was notified of the reprimand and his ability to file an exception, but failed to do so.

The Supreme Court ordered for the reprimand to be included in the records of the court as a public document.

According to Avvo, Attorney Ronald E. Langford is a family attorney based in De Moines, Iowa. He attended the Marquette University Law School, graduating in 1985. He acquired his license in Iowa in 1992.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.