On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania publicly reprimanded Paoli attorney James J, Ruggiero, Jr.
The case is styled ‘Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. James J, Ruggiero, Jr.’ and was brought by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“ODC”), under case no. 129 DB 2022.
The charges cited Ruggiero’s violations of Rules of Professional Conduct RPC 11.3, 1.4(a)(2), 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), 5.1(a), and 5.3, which state:
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
A lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished.
A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.
A lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from the client.
A lawyer who possesses managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
A lawyer who possesses managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that with respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with the lawyer that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.
The rules of professional conduct can be found here.
The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing:
This disciplinary matter is based on two complaints against Ruggiero, namely the Beadle, and the Finkelman case. The first complaint alleged that Ruggiero, his associates, and/or other persons employed by his law firm failed to diligently pursue the client’s matter and failed to communicate with the complainant and keep her reasonably informed about the status of the representation. In the second complaint, Ruggiero was also alleged to have engaged in misconduct by his failure to respond to a client’s communication and by his failure to properly supervise his employees’ work output in these cases.
Accordingly, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and Ruggiero, in a Joint Petition in Support of Discipline on Consent, agreed that Ruggiero should receive a public reprimand and requested the three-member panel of the Disciplinary Board review and approve the Joint Petition in Support of Discipline on Consent and order that Respondent receive a public reprimand.
The Joint Petition in Support of Discipline on Consent reads in material parts:
‘ODC’s investigation revealed, however, that Respondent did not completely neglect, ignore or abandon his client’s legal matters. In fact, to a large extent in the Finkelman case and to a lesser degree in the Beadle case, it appeared Respondent performed a significant amount of work and prepared a substantial amount of testamentary and other legal documents during the representation of his client. In the Finkelman case, Respondent provided ODC with voluminous documentation reflecting his preparation and drafting of multiple estate planning documents on behalf of his clients.’
The Petition continues:
‘Further, it appeared that Respondent may not have personally handled all of the work performed for the clients, but rather delegated much of the work to associates and other employees in his firm, and then failed to properly supervise their work product or ensure that the clients’ legal matters were diligently attended to by those individuals.’
Based on the foregoing, the Disciplinary Board ruled against Ruggiero in relation to the above-cited admitted misconduct.
The Disposition reads:
“ORDERED that JAMES J. RUGGIERO, JR. be subjected to a Public REPRIMAND by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as provided in Rule 204(a) and Rule 205(c)(9) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement.”
As of today, Mr. Ruggiero is the managing partner of Ruggiero Law Offices, LLC, serving Paoli, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Widener University School of Law in 1990. Ruggiero has been admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, license no. 59284.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.