SAN FRANCISCO – Longtime Los Angeles attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan faces probation following a May 16 California Supreme Court order over allegations in three client matters, according to a recent report issued by the State Bar of California and court documents.
Kaplan allegedly accepted funds from a third party to represent a client without written consent and failed to return unearned fees, according to the state bar's report.
The Supreme Court handed down a stayed one-year suspension and a year of conditional probation on May 16. Kaplan must comply with the conditions of probation recommended by the California State Bar Court hearing department in an order approving the stipulation filed in the case. Among those conditions is the requirement that Kaplan pass the Multistate professional Responsibility Examination.
Kaplan also was ordered to pay costs.
Kaplan's discipline will be effective Saturday, June 15, according to an announcement recently posted on the state bar's website.
Kaplan was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 20, 1974, according to his profile at the state bar website. Kaplan had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to his profile.
In one client matter, Kaplan allegedly accepted $15,000 in advance legal fees from the client in November 2014 without obtaining the client's informed written consent, according to the stipulation filed with the State Bar Court in January. Kaplan also allegedly failed to refund the unearned portion of the advance legal fees upon termination of his representation the same month.
In another client matter, Kaplan allegedly failed to promptly refund a client the approximately $9,822 received in advanced fees after his representation was terminated in February 2016.
In the third client matter, Kaplan allegedly accepted $6,000 in advance legal fees from a client in September 2015 without obtaining the client's informed written consent. In the same matter, Kaplan allegedly failed to promptly refund almost $106,228 in unearned legal fees upon termination of his representation in June 2016.
"By accepting fees from a non-client in two client matters without obtaining his clients' informed written consent and by failing to promptly refund unearned fees to three clients, respondent has committed multiple acts of misconduct," the stipulation said.