The Ohio Supreme Court has disbarred former Howland attorney Kenneth N. Shaw for failing to advise four clients he had been suspended from the practice of law and failing to get court approval before paying himself attorney fees.
Shaw’s law license was suspended in September 2010 for naming his five children as beneficiaries of an elderly client’s trust, entitling them to $5,000 each in the event of the client’s death, which violated rules regarding a conflict of interest.
He also had obtained a $13,000 loan from a woman for whom he did legal work starting in 1999, another conflict of interest, and failed to repay the money.
After his license was suspended for these matters, Shaw failed to advise four clients of the suspension and failed to get court approval as required by local probate rules before paying himself attorney fees.
The disciplinary counsel that investigated the Shaw complaint said Shaw’s previous disciplinary matters and a pattern of misconduct were aggravating factors.
His conduct “caused harm to vulnerable clients,” and Shaw “acted with a dishonest and selfish motive,” disciplinary counsel said. The Supreme Court noted that Shaw also failed to make restitution in the probate-court matters.
Disbarment is the typical sanction imposed for attorneys who continue to practice law while under suspension, the court said. The only mitigating factor working in Shaw’s favor was that he cooperated with the investigation, the Supreme Court said.
Shaw worked out of an office on Niles-Cortland Road in Howland.