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Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Clauss

711 N.W.2d 1 (2006)

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Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Clauss

Iowa Supreme Court

711 N.W.2d 1 (2006)

Facts

National Management Corporation (National) hired attorney Robert Clauss (defendant) to collect overdue rent from Kay Clark. Clark told Clauss that she could not pay her rent because her business was temporarily closed due to a legal issue with her former employer. Clauss agreed to help Clark with her legal issue with the goal that Clark could then reopen her business and make money to pay back National. Clauss consulted with another attorney who said that Clauss could ethically represent both National and Clark if he obtained waivers from both clients. Clauss then told each client that he was representing the other and asked each client to waive any conflict Clauss might have as a result of that dual representation. Clauss did not explain the nature of the conflicts or how they could impact either client. Both National and Clark agreed to the waivers. Clauss did not conduct a debtor’s examination of Clark or take any additional actions to pursue the collection of Clark’s debt to National. However, Clauss did perform additional work for Clark, collecting debts that were due to her and receiving fees for that work. Despite receiving these collections from Clauss, Clark did not make any payments on her debt to National. Eventually, the attorney-disciplinary board cited Clauss for several violations of the code of professional ethics relating to his dual representation of National and Clark. In addition, Clauss had a history of other disciplinary infractions. The court’s grievance commission recommended suspending Clauss’s license to practice law for 90 days. The Iowa Supreme Court reviewed the matter to make a final decision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Larson, J.)

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