A Thief River Falls attorney has been suspended from practicing law for a minimum of 90 days after he committed professional misconduct.
The suspension is effective Wednesday, Sept. 21. The disciplinary action also includes two years of probation.
Kevin Duffy was suspended after it was determined that he had failed to competently represent a client in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding and failed to properly advise her that the majority of her investment accounts weren’t qualified exemptions from bankruptcy.
As a result, the client filed for bankruptcy and turned over $38,081.57 from a retirement account until all of her debts, fees, and charges were subtracted. The petition indicated that the client had the funds to pay her creditors without filing for bankruptcy.
The court order indicated that Duffy failed to “review relevant financial documents to assess whether the client’s investment accounts were qualified exempt accounts as he was retained to do; failed to communicate with the client or provide the client with information necessary to make informed decisions; and repeatedly made court filings on his client’s behalf that claimed exemptions for funds without a legal basis, which increased the administrative costs the client paid to resolve the bankruptcy.” That case led to the discovery of 14 other cases in which Duffy failed to properly safeguard client funds in which he failed to refund a total of $3,190 in client funds.
Duffy has a private practice in Thief River Falls, and he has been licensed to practice law in Minnesota for 40 years. Duffy is the father of Pennington County Attorney Seamus Duffy, who has no involvement with these cases.
Kevin Duffy’s suspension will be followed by two years of probation. During that time, his work will be supervised by another attorney or the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. If another attorney supervises his work, that individual is required to provide at least quarterly eligible to be reinstated to practice law.
However, he needs to file documentation that he has completed continuing legal education requirements and complied with other requirements. Within a year of the court order, Duffy is required to file proof with the Minnesota Appellate Courts clerk that he has successfully completed “the written examination required for admission to the practice of law by the State Board of Law Examiners on the subject of professional responsibility.”
Among other conditions, Duffy was also ordered to pay $900. Duffy said none of the clients listed in the court order suffered financial consequences. Duffy added that the OLPR has taken an inflexible approach to interpret agreements between lawyers and their clients, and how precise those agreements should be. He indicated that his law firm’s agreements weren’t as precise as they should have been. As a result, Duffy said he was willing to accept the penalty.