On Thursday, January 25, 2024, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an order suspending the law license of James Thomas Rollins for five months based on reciprocal discipline from Illinois.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of James Thomas Rollins,” with case no. 23-1922.
The suspension stems from misconduct Rollins committed while working at a law firm in Illinois from 2016 to 2019. According to the Illinois Review Board report, Rollins agreed to contribute $100,000 in capital to the new law firm in exchange for an ownership interest. However, Rollins did not have the full funds. In early 2017, without informing his partners, Rollins began submitting fake invoices claiming he had paid firm expenses that should be credited toward his capital contribution.
The invoices were for legal services from another law firm, computer services from a technology company, and computer equipment from a store. When questions were raised about the invoices, Rollins provided fraudulent checks and a fake bank statement attempting to prove he paid the expenses. In total, Rollins attempted to defraud the law firm of $63,000 by claiming expenses he did not pay.
In August 2017, Rollins’ partners confronted him and he initially denied any wrongdoing. When presented with evidence the documents were fake, Rollins admitted what he had done. As a result, Rollins’ ownership interest in the firm was reduced. He was also fired from the firm in 2019 for unspecified reasons.
The Illinois disciplinary authorities alleged Rollins’ actions violated conduct rules regarding dishonesty. At a hearing, Rollins admitted the misconduct. The Illinois Hearing Board recommended a five-month suspension. The Review Board accepted this, noting Rollins’ misconduct was serious but balanced by mitigating factors like accepting responsibility, expressing remorse, and an unblemished career otherwise.
Under Iowa’s rules, the same suspension must be imposed for reciprocal discipline cases unless exceptions are shown. As neither Rollins nor the Iowa Attorney Disciplinary Board responded within 30 days of the Iowa Supreme Court notice, the court ordered the identical five-month suspension in Iowa. The suspension is effective immediately and prohibits all facets of legal practice during its duration.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Rollins is a business attorney in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the Valparaiso University School of Law. He acquired his law license in Iowa in 2017.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.