BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
OF THE
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

ERIK SCOTT NEWTON,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6287771.

 

Commission No.  08 CH 63

FILED -  July 7, 2008

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Alicia F. Duncan, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Erik Scott Newton, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 29, 2005, 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:

1. Between approximately September 12, 2005, and November 15, 2007, Respondent was employed by the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis ("the firm") in Chicago as a general litigation associate.

2. As part of his duties at the firm, on a daily basis, Respondent recorded on a timekeeping record the time he expended and the services he provided in connection with the representation of the firm's clients, noting the number of hours attributable to each client's matter.

3. The firm used the information that Respondent provided on the timekeeping record to generate invoices to the firm's clients. The fee that was due to the firm from the client was based on the amount of time expended on the client's behalf considered with the hourly charge for the individual attorney's and/or other employee's services.

4. Respondent knew that the firm used the timekeeping record to generate invoices to the firm's clients.

5. From February 2006, through October 2007, Respondent was assigned to a team of associates and partners providing legal services to Ernst & Young on behalf of the firm in a professional liability and accounting fraud case entitled, In re: American Italian Pasta Company Securities Litigation.

6. In March 2006, and from June 2006 through July 2007, Respondent prepared timekeeping records and the firm sent invoices for his purported services to Ernst & Young in the In re: American Italian Pasta Company Securities Litigation matter. On the timekeeping records Respondent provided to the firm, Respondent indicated he expended 736.2 hours providing legal services to Ernst & Young in the In re: American Italian Pasta Company Securities Litigation matter. At Respondent's hourly rate, these hours resulted in billings of $221,766.

7. Of the 736.2 hours recorded by Respondent in March 2006, and from June 2006, through July 2007, on his timekeeping records and on the invoices to Ernst & Young, as set forth in the table below, approximately 344.3 hours totaling $106,361 were false.

Respondent's Ernst & Young Time Records

Billing Period

Total Hours Billed by Respondent

Number of Those Hours Not Worked by Respondent

March 2006

7.3 hours

4.2 hours

June 2006

18.1 hours

1.5 hours

July 2006

38.8 hours

2 hours

August 2006

58.7 hours

5 hours

September 2006

32.3 hours

7 hours

October 2006

58.3 hours

16.7 hours

November 2006

40 hours

30.5 hours

December 2006

44.1 hours

30.2 hours

January 2007

82.2 hours

63 hours

February 2007

55.4 hours

50.9 hours

March 2007

22.6 hours

15.3 hours

April 2007

113.7 hours

2 hours

May 2007

56.4 hours

50.7 hours

June 2007

58.4 hours

20.5 hours

     

TOTAL:

736.2 hours

344.3 hours

8. Further, from July 2007, through October 2007, Respondent prepared timekeeping records for his purported services to Ernst & Young in the In re: American Italian Pasta Company Securities Litigation matter. On the timekeeping records, that Respondent provided to the firm he indicated that he expended 191.6 hours providing legal services to Ernst & Young. At Respondent's hourly rate, these hours resulted in billings of $185,085.

9. Of the 191.6 hours recorded by Respondent from July 2007, through October 2007, on his timekeeping records, as set forth in the table below, approximately 186.5 hours totaling $62,477 were false.

Respondent's Ernst & Young Time Records

Billing Period

Total Hours Billed by Respondent

Number of Those Hours Not Worked by Respondent

July 2007

49.9 hours

44.8 hours

August 2007

51.4 hours

51.4 hours

September 2007

40.1 hours

40.1 hours

October 2007

50.2 hours

50.2 hours

     

TOTAL:

191.6 hours

186.5 hours

10. Respondent's statements on his time records referred to in paragraphs 6 and 8 were false because Respondent overstated the amount of time he spent providing services to Ernst & Young in that matter and that he had billed for work before the work was actually performed by him.

11. Respondent knew that his statements on his time records referred to in paragraphs 6 and 8 were false because Respondent knew he overstated the amount of time he spent providing services to Ernst & Young in that matter and that he had billed for work before the work was actually performed by him.

12. By reason of the conduct outlined above, Respondent engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. conduct which is prejudicial to the administration of justice or which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

WHEREFORE, The Administrator 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.

Alicia F. Duncan
Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission
Senior Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Alicia F. Duncan