Attorney Says He Forgot He Was Unlicensed Before Taking on Divorce Case
In a somewhat bizarre case, an attorney who previously had an exemplary record practicing law could face disciplinary action after representing his daughter in her divorce case without a license.
Robert Epstein, a retired lawyer who is now in this 80s, reportedly served as legal counsel for his daughter. However, in Summer 2014, opposing counsel asked the court for a mistrial. It turns out that Epstein had applied for reinstatement with the Connecticut state bar, but at the time did not have a valid license to practice law. The judge in the case granted the motion for a mistrial.
Epstein, who retired in 2006, worked with another lawyer in June to develop a parenting plan for his daughter and former son-in-law, a document that was later court-approved and signed by both parties in the divorce. He also allegedly called a witness and cross-examined him, and appeared before a judge in a settlement conference.
According to Epstein, he did not intentionally violate state rules and simply forgot that his license was no longer active. Concerned with his daughter’s well being, his goal was to provide her with legal guidance as she worked her way through a difficult divorce. State officials are now deciding whether to pursue disciplinary action against Epstein, and the opposing party in the divorce case is seeking $20,000 for unnecessary legal fees paid.
The circumstances of this case are certainly unique. However, it’s important for all those seeking divorce to make sure their attorneys are qualified to handle their case in a way that protects their best interests. In addition to the proper licensing, a lawyer should have experience handling tough divorce cases, including those involving complex issues related to division of assets, child custody, child support and alimony.
If you are going through a divorce in Connecticut, be sure to choose an experienced and qualified family law attorney to represent you.