On Wednesday, April 26, 2023, the Supreme Court of California suspended attorney Marc Steen Kohnen for his failure to deposit funds in a trust account.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Marc Steen Kohnen,” with case no. S278753.

The charges cited California Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), 1.16(e)(2), and Business and Professions Code section 6106 and 6068(i),

In a notice of disciplinary charges dated September 9, 2022, it was stated that respondent four counts committed misconduct by his failure to deposit funds in a trust account, misappropriation of funds, failure to refund unearned fees/expenses, and failure to cooperate in state bar investigation.

The notice of disciplinary charges states:

“On or about January 24, 2019, the respondent received advanced fees in the amount of $1,000.00 from a client, Jeremy Reed, for purposes of representing him in front of the Nursing Board regarding an expungement on his record. Respondent thereafter failed to deposit the advanced fees in a bank account labeled “Trust Account” or words of similar import despite the fact that he had yet to earn said fees in willful violation of Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 1.15(a).”

The notice of disciplinary charges continues:

“Respondent failed to deposit the advanced fees into his client’s trust account despite not having earned the fees or having performed any services of value on behalf of the client at the time he received the advanced fees. Thus respondent wilfully and intentionally misappropriated $1,000.00 of unearned advanced fees that he was obligated to hold in the client’s trust account prior to performing any work on the matter. Respondent thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6106.”

The notice of disciplinary charges further states:

“On or about March 27, 2019, the respondent informed Mr. Reed that since he did not attend and represent Mr. Reed at an informal conference and instead advised Mr. Reed to pay a citation, he would refund him $750.00. 8. Respondent failed to promptly refund the unearned fees upon conclusion of the attorney-client relationship in or around March 27, 2019, despite repeated requests from Mr. Reed in willful violation of Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 1.16(e)(2).”

In his answer, the respondent explained the specific details of each and every count of his misconduct explaining further that for the period between July 2021 and July 2022, the respondent’s finances were extremely strained due to having to move into the new property. Many improvements had to be reasonably made.

The respondent’s answer states:

“The divorce and its effects were not the only issues affecting my financial situation. During this period the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on my business. went from making a six-figure income per year to only approximately $25,000 per year. Further, had two children born during this period, in 2020 and 2021, bringing the total count of children am responsible for to five between my partner and l. “

The respondent’s answer continues:

“The stress and anxiety caused by these economic, divorce, and new family pressures led me to prioritize them over refunding Mr. Reed for the fine he incurred. was fraught with financial issues, faced losing the private practice have dreamed of since was a teenager, and have been constantly worried about how am going to take care of my family. It isn’t until very recently, as the pandemic waned and things have fallen into place, that have had the chance to breathe financially. Even after Mr. Reed sued me in small claims court, was so focused on these other life-altering issues that didn’t attend to the lawsuit. and default judgment was entered. That judgment amount plus interest has since been paid (See Attachment 5: Receipt from San Diego Superior Court). have since enrolled in the Lawyer Assistance Program.”

Based on the aforementioned facts, the court decided to suspend the respondent from the practice of law.

The Disposition states:

“The court orders that Marc Steen Kohnen (Respondent), State Bar Number 255303, is suspended from the practice of law in California for one year, execution of that period of suspension is stayed, and Respondent is placed on probation for one year.”

Mr. Kohnen practices in San Diego, California. He is licensed in California. His info can be found on avvo.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.