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Former Sidley Austin Executive Committee Member Accused of Misappropriation
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In a complaint that recently came to light, (first reported by the Legal Profession Blog) the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against Lee Smolen for misappropriating about $119,000 in false expenses. Smolen is at present a partner at DLA Piper /a>and joined that law firm in February. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Smolen was a member of the executive committee of Sidley Austin LLP , and also worked as the former global coordinator of Sidley’s real estate practice in Chicago.

According to the complaint filed before the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, “Between 2007 and 2012, Respondent submitted more than 800 requests that the firm reimburse him from the unallocated account (an account related to an undisclosed client) for cab rides that he knew he had not taken. In support of the false requests, Respondent fabricated false taxi receipts … and the firm paid Respondent approximately $69,000 based on the false submissions.”

The complaint also records “requests that he be reimbursed … for purported entertainment expenses, including restaurant gift cards (totaling at least $13,000), tickets to sporting events (totaling at least $35,000) and meals at various locations including his country club, on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and other dates … that had not been incurred for legitimate firm purposes.”

  
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DLA Piper made a statement on the issue stating that its management was “aware of this matter during the hiring process. After our own due diligence and a thorough review of the facts, the firm decided to give great weight to the total body of Lee’s work over his 25-plus years as a lawyer and to extend to him the opportunity to continue his career at DLA Piper.”

The allegations made by the Commission against Smolen include conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice, or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

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