BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
LEE MARK SMOLEN,
Commission No. 2013PR00060
FILED --- June 14, 2013
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorneys, Scott Renfroe and Gina M. Abbatemarco, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent Lee Mark Smolen, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 7, 1985, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, and which subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:
(False Expense Claims)
1. Between 2007 and 2012, Respondent was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, based in the firm's Chicago office. During that time, he was the head partner in charge of the Chicago office's real estate practice group, and was a global coordinator of the firm's real estate practice group. In addition to the responsibilities listed above, after October of 2008, Respondent served as a member of the firm's executive committee. Respondent was responsible for, among other things, billing matters affecting real estate transactions involving a major financial institution, one of the firm's largest clients. One account relating to that client ("the unallocated account") contained funds that had been paid by the client as fees, but against which additional charges could be made for various matters, including post-closing fees. In the absence of such charges, funds in the unallocated account belonged to the law firm.
2. Between 2007 and 2012, Respondent submitted more than 800 requests that the firm reimburse him from the unallocated account for cab rides that he knew he had not taken. In support of the false requests, Respondent fabricated false taxi receipts, in amounts averaging approximately $80 each, and the firm paid Respondent approximately $69,000 based on the false submissions.
3. During the same period, Respondent also submitted, or caused to be submitted, fabricated cab receipts totaling at least $567 that were charged to other firm clients.
4. Also during the same period, Respondent submitted requests that he be reimbursed from the unallocated account for purported entertainment expenses, including restaurant gift cards (totaling at least $13,000), tickets to sporting events (totaling at least $35,000) and meals at various locations, including his country club, on Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving and other dates (totaling at least $2,000), that had not been incurred for legitimate firm purposes.
5. By causing funds to be paid to himself from the unallocated account, Respondent reduced the amount of money in that account that would otherwise have been paid to the firm and, eventually, distributed to Respondent and Respondent's partners.
6. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:
breach of fiduciary duty (to Sidley partners and his clients);
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4 (a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990), and Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and
conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice, or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.
WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.
Jerome Larkin, Administrator