On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York suspended attorney Shahid Ali from practicing law for one year.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Shahid Ali,” with case no. 2021-07983.

The charges cited New York Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.15(a) and 1.15(d) which states:

Misappropriating funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law.

Failing to maintain required bookkeeping records for his escrow account.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

According to the filing, Ali operated a busy real estate law practice alongside two partners in New York. Due to a growing caseload, by 2013 the firm regularly handled over 35 real estate closings per month and millions of dollars flowed through its escrow accounts. However, problems arose a few years later after Ali’s part-time bookkeeper stopped assisting the firm.

In 2018, multiple checks began bouncing from one of Ali’s escrow accounts due to insufficient funds. Although alerted to the issues, Ali did not fully address them. Nearly a year later, another large check was returned, prompting an investigation by the state Grievance Committee. The inquiry found Ali failed to properly oversee his escrow accounts for over a year and a half, during which time client funds were misappropriated due to various accounting errors.

While Ali took responsibility and argued this was unintentional, the Special Referee appointed on February 17, 2022, to review the case was unsatisfied with his answers. In her report, the Referee criticized Ali for deflecting blame towards others like the bank and bookkeeper instead of admitting his own mistakes as the partner in charge of finances. The Grievance Committee then moved to suspend Ali based on the findings.

In its decision, the Appellate Court agreed with the report and formally suspended Ali for one year, effective March 1, 2024. Ali is now barred from practicing law during his suspension and must meet certain requirements, such as continuing legal education before he can petition to be reinstated.

The Disposition states:

“Under the totality of the circumstances, we find that the respondent’s conduct warrants his suspension from the practice of law for a period of one year.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Ali is an attorney in Hollis, New York. He attended the Touro Law School. He acquired his law license in New York in 2008.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.