So v. Suchanek, No. 10-7071 (D.C. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
This case was before the court on appeal and cross-appeal from the judgment of the district court ordering attorney Leonard Suchanek to pay his former client, Kevin So, an amount representing a portion of the legal fees Suchanek collected from So, plus interest. Suchanek began representing So and So's agent, Lucy Yan Lu, in July 2006 despite the fact that he was already representing Land Base, a California entity that had entered into an agreement with So that was signed by Lu, to make investments on So's behalf. The court concluded that Suchanek violated Rule 1.7 by simultaneously representing So and Land Base in July and August of 2006; the district court's analysis of the second conflict period, between August 2007 and January 2008, was also sound; and the district court's order requiring Suchanek to deposit the trust funds in the registry was proper in light of Suchanek's history of moving So's money, without authorization, into other bank accounts - sometimes spending it rather than returning it to So or to So's trust account. Accordingly, the court affirmed the rulings as they pertained to Suchanek's appeal. In regard to So's contention that the district court erred in ordering disgorgement of only some of the fees Suchanek collected, the court concluded that the district court's error in assessing the conflict between Lu and So influenced the scope of the remedy it selected. The district court should have awarded a larger sum if it had correctly found a conflict during other parts of the representation. Accordingly, the court remanded the case for further review and issuance of a supplemental remedy, greater than the amount already ordered.