On Wednesday, November 29, 2022, the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ruled on charges for attorney discipline against Chicago attorney Justin Koslan Schwartz for neglecting client matters and failure to return unearned fees.
The case is styled In the Matter of Justin Koslan Schwartz and was brought by the Administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission under commission no. 2022PR00030.
The charges cited Schwartz’s violation of Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(c), 1.16(d), 1.16(e), and 3.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct:
failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client;
failing to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and failing to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information;
failing to comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation;
failing to take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interest upon termination of representation;
failing to promptly refund unearned fees; and
failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of his clients.
The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The following are as alleged and summarized from the Complaint:
This disciplinary matter against Schwartz involves three client matters. He was alleged to have engaged in misconduct of having neglected his clients’ cases and failed to diligently pursue their interests. It was also alleged that Schwartz failed to promptly respond to his clients’ calls, texts, and emails requesting information about the status of their respective cases. Moreover, Schwarz, in one client matter, failed to properly terminate his representation by not receiving permission from the Appellate Court to withdraw, failed to give that client proper notice of his withdrawal, and failed to allow his client time to secure other counsel. In another client matter, Schwartz was alleged to have failed to refund to the client portion of the unearned fees paid in advance and failed to expedite that client’s interests by his failure to file a brief in support of the petition of said client.
The Administrator recommended Schwartz’s one-year suspension until further order of the court and for Schwartz to make restitution.
The Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Board reads:
“Respondent did not file an answer, respond to the Motion to Deem the Allegations of the Complaint Admitted, or participate in any prehearing conferences in this matter.”
The Report continues:
“The day before the disciplinary hearing, Respondent filed a motion to continue on the grounds that he had “several hearings” in Vermillion County at the same time as the disciplinary hearing. Given Respondent’s knowledge of the disciplinary hearing date for several months, his failure to file a motion until the eve of hearing, and the absence of specific information about his purported conflicts, the Chair denied Respondent’s motion as untimely and insufficient to demonstrate the extraordinary circumstances required for a continuance.”
The Report further alleges:
“The allegations deemed establish that Respondent neglected three client matters, two of which were criminal appeals. He also failed to refund $1,000 in unearned fees to one of his clients, Kevin Converse.”
The Hearing Board, having weighed the nature of Schwartz’s misconduct, the serious aggravating factors present, and the Administrator’s cited case law, recommends that Schwartz be suspended for one year until further order of the Court and until he makes restitution in the amount of $1,000 to Kevin Converse.
Mr. Justin Koslan Schwartz graduated from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Prior to suspension, he practiced in Chicago, Illinois. He has been licensed in Illinois, license no. 6257328. His information can be found on LinkedIn.
A copy of the Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Board can be found here.