Olszewski v. JordanAnnotate this Case
In 2009, the dissolution court dissolved the marriage of James and Diana Jordan. The court ordered that, after payment of attorneys fees and other obligations, the balance of the parties’ account at Northwestern Mutual (account) be divided equally between the parties. Plaintiff, Diana’s father, brought this action against James to collect the outstanding balance on James’s promissory note to him. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. James then filed a claim for a determination of interests in the account. Defendants, the attorney and firm that represented James in the dissolution action, also sought a determination of interests in the account, claiming that they had a claim prior in right to Plaintiff’s claim by virtue of the charging lien arising by operation of law in the dissolution action. The trial court concluded that Defendants had no superior interest in the account because a charging lien in connection with a dissolution action would be prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Appellate Court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that attorneys are not entitled by operation of law to equitable charging liens on marital assets for fees and expenses incurred in obtaining judgments for their clients in marital dissolution proceedings.