ARDC Files Unauthorized Practice of Law Complaint Against A New York Attorney

BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD:

Maurice J. Salem is not licensed to practice in Illinois. He is licensed in New York, but he does not apparently practice in New York.  After a few recent stories in the press, the ARDC has filed an unauthorized practice of law complaint against Salem.

Here is a portion of count I of the complaint:

17. Respondent’s business cards, as described in paragraph 16, above, are false and misleading because they identify Respondent as an attorney at an Illinois address and do not state that Respondent is not authorized to practice in Illinois or that the only state in which Respondent was licensed was New York.
18. Between January 1, 2010 and at least June 2014, Respondent provided the business cards referenced in paragraph 16, above, to attorneys, judges, and others to lead them to believe that he had been generally admitted to the Illinois bar and that he had been authorized to practice law in Illinois without limitation.
19. Between at least January 1, 2010 and April 20, 2016, the date a complaint was voted by an Inquiry Panel of the Commission, Respondent has maintained a law office, and has maintained a continuous and systematic presence within the State of Illinois, by practicing state law from offices in his residences at the Choctaw Road house and 6201 West 124th Street in Palos Heights and identifying himself as an attorney at the UPS facility address without disclosing that his sole law license was from New York.
20. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, by conduct including Respondent’s representation of clients in Illinois legal matters, since January 1, 2010, in violation of Rule 5.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
  2. establishing an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction, by conduct including Respondent’s maintenance of a law office in Palos Heights, Illinois, and representation of clients in Illinois legal matters, since January 1, 2010, in violation of Rule 5.5(b)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);
  3. holding himself out to the public or otherwise representing that the lawyer is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction, when he was not so admitted, by conduct including Respondent’s use of business cards which identified him as an attorney, without stating that he is not licensed in Illinois or that the only state in which he was licensed to practice law was in New York, in violation of Rule 5.5(b)(2) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);
  4. making a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services that contains a material misrepresentation of fact, by conduct including Respondent’s use of business cards wherein he held himself out as an attorney without stating that he is not licensed in Illinois or that the only state in which he was licensed to practice law was in New York, in violation of Rule 7.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and,
  5. engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, by conduct including Respondent’s use of an Illinois address in pleadings and business cards which identified him as an attorney without disclosing that his sole law license was from New Yorkin violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

Salem was also charged with making false statements to two judges. Again, here is a quotation from the allegations concerning a matter in the Circuit Court of Cook County:

38. On or about February 20, 2015, Respondent filed a verified statement pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 707 with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Massad Naim, et al. v. Amin Ijbara Equity Corporation, et al., case number 13 L 3588, for permission as an out-of-state attorney to represent Amin Ijbara Equity Corporation and Amin Ijbara in the case. Upon the filing of the verified statement in compliance with Rule 707(a), Respondent was authorized to provide legal services in the proceeding without an order from the court.39. On September 9, 2015, the Administrator filed a motion to terminate Respondent’s permission to practice in case number 13 L 3588. The Administrator alleged that Respondent’s permission should be terminated because he had violated Rule 5.5 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct by holding himself out as an Illinois attorney and by establishing a systematic and continuous presence in Illinois, and because he had violated Supreme Court Rule 707 by representing his wife, Claudia Salem, in Cook County case number 13 M5 39 without filing a verified statement, among other grounds.

40. On November 17, 2015, the Honorable John C. Griffin held a hearing on the Administrator’s motion to terminate Respondent’s permission to practice in case number 13 L 3588. Respondent appeared at that hearing and argued in opposition to the motion. At that time, Judge Griffin questioned Respondent regarding his appearance on behalf of his wife, Claudia, in case number 13 M5 39, as described in paragraph 25, above. Respondent stated to the court that “I never filed an appearance…” He further stated, “I didn’t file an appearance for her, Your Honor.”
41. Respondent’s statements to the court that he had not filed an appearance on his wife’s behalf in case number 13 M5 39 was false.
42. At that time, Respondent knew his statements were false because on February 7, 2013, Respondent filed an appearance in case number 13 M5 39 on behalf of himself and his wife as defendants in the matter. On that same date, Respondent had also filed a document entitled Verified Answers, Affirmative Defenses, Counterclaim and Crossclaim on behalf of himself and his wife.
43. On November 17, 2015, the Administrator’s motion to remove Respondent as counsel in case number 13 M5 39 was granted based on Respondent’s continuous and systematic presence in Illinois.
44. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal, by conduct including Respondent’s assertion that he did not file an appearance on behalf of his wife, Claudia Salem, in case number 13 M5 39, in violation of Rule 3.3(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and,
  2. engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, by conduct including Respondent’s false statement regarding his appearance on behalf of Claudia Salem in case number 13 M5 39, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

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