IN RE Petition for DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST Boris A. GORSHTEYN, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0392840.
Disbarment is the appropriate discipline for an attorney who
misappropriated approximately $382,000 in client funds,
abandoned client matters, settled clients claims without
their knowledge or consent, failed to maintain trust account
books and records, failed to cooperate with the Directors
investigations, and committed other misconduct.
M. Humiston, Director, Cassie Hanson, Managing Attorney,
Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for petitioner.
A. Gorshteyn, Excelsior, Minnesota, pro se.
Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
filed a petition and supplementary petition for disciplinary
action against respondent Boris A. Gorshteyn. The petitions
allege numerous acts of professional misconduct, including
misappropriation of approximately $382,000 in client funds,
abandonment of client matters, settling clients claims
without their knowledge or consent, failing to maintain trust
account books and records, and noncooperation with the
Directors investigations. Gorshteyn did not file an answer
to either petition. Accordingly, we deemed the allegations in
both petitions admitted and allowed the parties to file
memoranda on the appropriate discipline. Gorshteyn did not
file a memorandum or otherwise appear in this matter. The
Director asserts that the appropriate sanction is disbarment.
was admitted to the practice of law in Minnesota in 2012. In
October 2017, the Director of the Office of Lawyers
Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary
action and an amended and supplementary petition for
disciplinary action against Gorshteyn. After the Director was
unable to personally serve Gorshteyn, we granted the
Directors application for suspension under Rule 12(c)(1),
Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility, and gave
Gorshteyn 1 year to file a motion to vacate the suspension
and seek leave to answer the petitions. In re
Gorshteyn, 902 N.W.2d 922, 923 (Minn. 2017) (order).
Gorshteyn did not file such a motion or respond to the
petition or supplementary petition.
Because Gorshteyn failed to respond to either petition, we
deemed the allegations in the petition and supplementary
petition admitted. In re Gorshteyn, No. A17-1635,
Order at 1 (Minn. filed Nov. 5, 2018). We ordered Gorshteyn
to show cause why he should not be disciplined and invited
the parties to file memoranda on the appropriate discipline
to be imposed in this case. Id. at 2. Gorshteyn did
not comply with our order to show cause, did not submit a
proposal regarding the appropriate discipline, and did not
otherwise appear in this matter.
July 2013, Gorshteyn started his own practice, Gorshteyn Law,
P.C. Gorshteyn was the owner and managing partner of
Gorshteyn Law, and his practice mostly handled personal
injury matters. Gorshteyn Law primarily served Somali
clients, and many of Gorshteyns clients needed an
interpreter to communicate in English.
more than 300 paragraphs spanning 60 pages, the petition and
supplementary petition set forth detailed accounts of
Gorshteyns extensive professional misconduct between 2014
and 2017. This misconduct was committed against at least 25
clients. We summarize the most relevant misconduct below.
Misappropriation of client funds and other trust-account
2014 to 2016, Gorshteyn misappropriated approximately
$382,000 in client funds from more than 13
clients. He did this by transferring excess
fees from his trust account to himself totaling approximately
$247,000. In addition, he disbursed
or transferred approximately $134,600 in client funds to
himself without any relation to earned fees and to which he
was not entitled.
Gorshteyn also "failed to disburse from his trust
account, or timely disburse from his trust account, numerous
clients funds to or on behalf of the client." Gorshteyn
failed to disburse more than 10 clients funds in a timely
January 2014 to June 2016, Gorshteyn did not properly
maintain trust account check registers, client subsidiary
ledgers, trial balance reports, reconciliation reports, and
internet transfer memoranda. He also did not annotate many
trust account checks and slips with the affected clients
name. Gorshteyn routinely disbursed fees to himself, both
through internet transfers and checks drawn on the trust
account, without adequately documenting the identity of the
affected clients. Further, Gorshteyn allowed non-signatories
to apply his stamped signature to trust account checks. His
failure to maintain adequate records and to provide the
Director with the necessary books impeded the Directors
ability to perform a complete audit.
this conduct, Gorshteyn violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct
1.15(c)(3), 1.15(c)(4), 1.15(h) as interpreted by Appendix 1,
1.15(j), and 8.4(c).
Pattern of client misconduct involving unauthorized
also committed misconduct involving unauthorized settlement
of client claims. Gorshteyn presented at least 13 clients
with powers of attorney but failed to explain the purpose or
legal implications of these documents. In one instance,
Gorshteyn, or someone in Gorshteyns office, forged the
signature of a client on a power of attorney. In that same
matter, Gorshteyn failed to obtain a valid contingent fee
agreement. On at least two occasions, Gorshteyn presented fee
agreements and powers of attorney written only in English to
clients who spoke only limited English. And, in one of those
instances, he failed to explain a contingent fee agreement to
frequently settled or arbitrated cases without the knowledge
or consent of the clients. On at least 11 occasions, Gorshteyn
entered into settlement negotiations and settled claims
without informing his clients or obtaining their consent.
Twice, Gorshteyn did not inform his client that he had
commenced arbitration proceedings or that an arbitration
hearing was taking ...