A Norwood attorney was suspended from his bar license for six months for one year for professional misconduct, including improper supervision of a paralegal who embezzled $ 200,000 from his law firm.
Before Edward Kathman can practice again as a lawyer, he must take a 24-hour course in professional ethics and law firm management on Wednesday, according to a unanimous opinion from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Kathman hired paralegal Jillian Gorman in 2015 and her professional duties included personal injury cases. Kathman allowed Gorman to write checks to customers to distribute settlement funds.
There was “little or no supervision” from Kathman, the statement said. He gave Gorman a laptop that was not connected to his law firm and allowed her to work outside of the small office.
In 2017, Kathman discovered that Gorman had drawn up several checks from his customer escrow account that were payable to themselves, the appraisal said. He asked them to return the laptop and found that it was “inoperative” and could not recover any data from it.
He eventually fired Gorman, who pleaded guilty to theft and forgery in 2018. She was sentenced to five years probation and asked to repay the money. As of October 2020, she had paid just $ 2,535, the statement said.
In 2020, the Cincinnati Bar Association filed a complaint against Kathman with the State Board of Professional Conduct. The complaint related to Kathman’s failure to oversee Gorman, the abuse of an account containing his clients’ money and several instances of money being transferred to clients.
In one case, Kathman allowed a client to pay him for legal services through PayPal. But someone gained access to Kathman’s PayPal account and thereby his customer escrow account.
“This person made various payments from (escrow) that were … unauthorized by Kathman or a customer,” the statement said.
In the event of a reinstatement, Kathman will be monitored for a year by a lawyer who will guide the running of his law firm and compliance with the rules for managing his client escrow account.
This is the second time Kathman has been sanctioned by the Ohio Supreme Court. In 2001, Kathman Court suspended Kathman for six months on charges of wrongful conduct that included unlawfully sharing legal fees with a non-attorney and assisting a non-attorney in the illicit exercise of the law.