The Talent

October 29, 2010 12:18 PM

Law License Yanked from Florida Firm Founder over Ethics Breaches

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 11/2/10, 10:25 a.m. The Daily Business Review reports that Henry Adorno has stepped down as head of Adorno & Yoss. The firm will be renamed Yoss LLP, after managing partner George Yoss.

A banner week for lawyers behaving badly got a little busier on Wednesday when the Florida Supreme Court suspended Adorno & Yoss cofounder Henry "Hank" Adorno from practicing law over his role in crafting a $7 million class action settlement, reports sibling publication the Daily Business Review.

The court ordered Adorno to show cause by Nov. 16 why a suspension of up to three years or possible disbarment should not be imposed, the DBR reports, noting that the Florida Bar has recommended a six- month suspension. The unanimous ruling by a seven-judge panel tossed a previous recommendation of light reprimand for Adorno, suggested by a judicial referee who heard the ethics charges against him.

The charges stem from a settlement in a closely watched Miami class action challenging the constitutionality of a fire-fee charged to all Miami taxpayers, the DBR reports. After the case settled for $7 million--including a $2 million fee for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Adorno & Yoss--it was discovered that the settlement would only benefit seven individuals outside the firm.

(The Miami Herald has more background on the fire-fee, which dates back to the city's efforts in the early 1990s to fill budget gaps.)

Adorno, who did not respond to a DBR request for comment on the ruling, currently serves as Adorno & Yoss's president and CEO, working out of the firm's Atlanta office. The DBR reports that the court order requires Adorno's law license to be suspended within 30 days, giving him time to close out his practice.

Andrew Berman of Miami's Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez and Nova Southeastern University law professor Bruce Rogow are representing Adorno. Rogow expressed shock that other lawyers who took part in the settlement aren't facing sanction, telling the DBR he was "very disappointed and surprised" by the court's ruling.

Our colleagues at the (late) Minority Law Journal ran a lengthy profile on Adorno & Yoss last year, including some foreshadowing of Hank Adorno's ethics woes. With nearly 300 lawyers, the firm is the 147th-largest in the U.S., according to The National Law Journal, a sibling publication.

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