On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the Hearing Board Panel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary recommended that Attorney Philip Michael Kiss be suspended for six months for failing to appear for his disciplinary hearing and failing to fully participate in the proceeding.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Philip Michael Kiss,” with case no. 2022PR00086.
The charges cited Illinois Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(e) and 1.15(a).
Providing financial assistance to clients in connection with pending or contemplated litigation that was not court costs or litigation expense.
Failure to maintain and appropriately safeguard funds belonging to a client or a third person, and to hold the funds separate from the lawyer’s own property.
The Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission had filed a two-count complaint against Kiss on December 20, 2022, alleging that Kiss had violated the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the complaint, Kiss maintained a checking account at JP Morgan Chase Bank for his law firm, Kiss & Associates, and used it for personal and business purposes. In 2017, he also opened an IOLTA client trust account at the same bank, which was used to deposit and disburse funds for clients or third persons.
The complaint alleges that Kiss engaged in financial assistance to a client, Mohamed Ali, in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, in violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. Kiss allegedly drew checks from his operating account and provided Ali with a total of $2,666.67 to pay his rent and other personal expenses. Moreover, the complaint charges Kiss with a conversion of $929.03 of Ali’s settlement funds.
On March 5, 2020, Ali signed a release, settlement, and indemnity agreement in connection with the $4,457.43 allocated to him from the insurance funds from Allstate Insurance. However, Kiss allegedly attempted to contact agents of Medicare to inquire as to whether there had been a lien filed on behalf of Medicare against Ali in connection with any medical treatment, prescription medications, or physical therapy Ali may have received as a result of his injuries from the June 2016 collision. The complaint also alleges that Kiss failed to provide Ali with a written explanation of the basis for the fee charged, as required by Rule 1.5(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
Based on the complaint, the Hearing Board Panel found that Kiss had committed the misconduct and that his failure to appear for his disciplinary hearing and failure to fully participate in the proceeding were significant factors in aggravation. The panel also considered in mitigation that Kiss had no prior discipline and that his failure to safeguard funds appeared to have resulted from poor bookkeeping practices rather than a dishonest motive.
The recommendation states:
“Given Respondent’s misconduct, the aggravating and mitigating factors present, and the case law cited by the Administrator, we recommend that Respondent, Philip Michael Kiss, be suspended for six months until further order of the Court,”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Kiss is an attorney in Gurnee, Illinois. He acquired his law license in Illinois in 1984.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.