When Can An Attorney Avoid Disbarment In a Conversion of Client Funds Case ?

In Florida Bar v. Condon, 647 So. 2d 823, 823-24 (Fla. 1994), this Court chose not to disbar an attorney who suffered from severe depression and could not remember what he had done with client funds during a period of time when he stopped taking his medication. Nevertheless, the Court imposed a three-year suspension. Id. On the other hand, this Court has held that marital and economic problems are not an excuse for conversion of client funds, and disbarment is an appropriate discipline. See Florida Bar v. Shanzer, 572 So. 2d 1382 (Fla. 1991). In Shanzer, this Court stated that such problems "are visited upon a great number of lawyers. Clearly, we cannot excuse an attorney for dipping into his trust funds as a means of solving personal problems." Id. at 1384. The Court followed the referee's recommendation of disbarment even though Shanzer argued that his remorse, his efforts to pay restitution, and his full cooperation with the Bar warranted less severe discipline. Id. at 1383.