(I apologize for not having a blog the last couple of days. When you hear news reports that COVID is still around…believe it. After having it a couple of years ago and having the vaccine and a couple of boosters, a Christmas trip to New York City left me with a Covid hangover. I am fine and appreciate the kind words from so many.)
Scot Strems was finally disbarred from practicing law by the Supreme Court of Florida. I noted his law firm’s problems in Public Adjusters and Those Directly Soliciting Insurance Claims on Behalf of Attorneys Are Committing a Crime and Can Go to Jail Along With the Attorneys, and Strems Law Firm Suspended For Unethically Representing Claimants. The Supreme Court of Florida provided this background in its opinion:
Strems was the sole partner and owner of the Strems Law Firm, P.A. (SLF), and the firm’s caseload grew significantly from its inception. By 2016, the firm had only three litigation attorneys, with each managing approximately 700 cases. SLF’s inadequate staffing and lack of sufficient office procedures resulted in client neglect, case dismissals, frustrated judges, and costly sanctions on a near weekly basis.
To deal with these growing pains, Strems hired a litigation managing attorney, Christopher Aguirre. Aguirre drafted policies and procedures to improve SLF’s efficiency, and he kept Strems up to date on firm metrics, such as deadlines for discovery, proposals for settlement, and deposition requests. But, despite Aguirre’s best efforts, SLF continued to neglect client matters and accrue court sanctions that ranged from $5,000 to $15,000 weekly.
Strems knew from the Kozel dismissals and weekly sanctions that there were issues with the management of his firm, but he took insufficient action to rectify the situation. Rather than focus on his then-current clients and reduce the caseload SLF attorneys were expected to manage, SLF continued to accept 20 to 50 new cases per week, and Strems questioned slowdowns in accepting new cases.1
What puzzles me is that the supreme court did not base any of the reasons upon the use of runners to sign up his clients. It was obvious that his firm was not getting cases based on reputation. I noted his use of runners in Public Adjusters and Those Directly Soliciting Insurance Claims on Behalf of Attorneys Are Committing a Crime and Can Go to Jail Along With the Attorneys:
How about the Strems Law Firm examples? We just agreed to help policyholders on a pro bono basis because Strems lawyers and disreputable public adjusters were breaking criminal laws in the solicitation of their insurance claim. The family hired Strems because the public adjusters directly solicited them and then provided an attorney contract to sign—the policyholders never signed a public adjuster contract. The public adjusters were trying to have the policyholders sign a lawyer contract. The public adjusters were acting as ‘cappers,’ which virtually every state imposes criminal penalties.
I am not certain what happened to the improper solicitation aspect of the Strems case. However, I expected more fallout and news about Strems acting in concert with certain unethical public adjusters.
Policyholders should always independently check the reputation of the attorneys they hire.
Thought For The Day
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
1 Strems v. The Florida Bar, No. SC20-806 (Fla. Dec. 22, 2022).