Chicago Lawyer Reprimanded for E-Filing Breach of Confidentiality and Failure to Supervise Staff

Chicago Lawyer Reprimanded for E-Filing Breach of Confidentiality and Failure to Supervise Staff

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Hearing Board recently reprimanded an associate attorney at a Chicago law firm for e-filing breach of confidentiality and failing to supervise his non-lawyer staff. According to the opinion, the lawyer directed one of his many non-lawyer assistants to prepare complaints and corresponding exhibits for cases arising out of a contract that his firm had to represent the United States in debt collection cases involving student loans. At the lawyer’s direction, one of his non-lawyer assistants logged on to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Case Management/Electronic Case File (CM/ECF) system to file the complaints. The CM/ECF system required the non-lawyer assistant to check a box that declared that the filings complied with Rule 5.2(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 5.2(a) requires all personal identifying information to be redacted. However, several of the complaints and exhibits were not properly redacted, which caused the defendant’s confidential personal identifying information to be available to the public. Furthermore, after being notified of the redaction problems, the lawyer failed to properly supervise his non-lawyer assistants to ensure that subsequent filings were redacted in compliance with FRCP 5.2(a).

The Illinois Disciplinary Board found that the lawyer’s conduct violated Rules 5.3(b), 5.3(c)(2), 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, the Board found that the lawyer engaged in “conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.”