Four-year-old ARDC complaint against Weiss set for April hearings; Chicago lawyer accused of sexual harassment

A series of hearings in the disciplinary case against a Chicagoland lawyer accused of sexual harassment has been set for this spring, more than four years after the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission first filed the complaint.

The ARDC in December 2008 lodged a complaint against Paul M. Weiss, claiming his alleged actions toward four female employees, a neighbor and a woman on the street brought the legal profession into disrepute. The complaint has since been amended to include claims of at least one other woman.

The misconduct alleged in the complaint occurred between 2000 and 2010, during which time Weiss practiced law at the Chicago law firm of Freed & Weiss.

He now works at Complex Litigation Group in Highland Park, which is “comprised of the key members of the pioneering class action law firm Freed & Weiss,” according to its website.

Over the years, Weiss has worked on some class actions in Madison and St. Clair counties with the Lakin Law Firm, as well as St. Louis attorney Richard Burke, who opened his own office after being fired from Lakin, and Belleville attorney Kevin Hoerner.

Jim Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel at the ARDC, said although the complaint against Weiss was filed years ago, it looks like “there is some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.”

The four year lapse between the filing of the complaint and the recently scheduled hearings in Weiss’ matter  “is pretty extraordinary, in terms of timing,” Grogan said, noting that it has been “hotly” and “vigorously contested.”

Grogan said a prehearing conference has been set for April 16 with five days of hearings, which will proceed like a trial, to take place between April 29 and May 3 in Chicago.

“You’ll see multi-day hearings set by the hearing board,” Grogan said. “Although five day hearings have been known, the usual length of these hearings is a day or two.”

Besides his pending disciplinary matter, Weiss has also been dealing with ongoing litigation over fees and the dissolution of Freed & Weiss.

In 2007, after the partnership between Weiss’ firm and the Lakin Law firm ended, Lakin sued Freed and Weiss in Madison County and Freed and Weiss sued Lakin in Cook County.

Burke, who works at Complex Litigation Group, also sued Lakin, his former employer, in federal court over fees and Lakin filed a counterclaim against Burke, alleging breach of contract.

Among other litigation, Eric Freed, who served as co-manager of Freed & Weiss, filed a complaint in August against Weiss, Weiss’ father, Ronald, and Complex Litigation Group, seeking dissolution of the LLC and payment of his distributional interest.

Freed claims that Weiss engineered and implemented a scheme to take over Freed & Weiss and turn the firm into his own.

Weiss filed a motion last year seeking to dismiss or stay the matter based on the parties’ pending suit in Cook County, where “there is a nearly fully briefed summary judgment motion on precisely the issue of the termination of Freed’s membership interest … and the resulting payment due to him, if any.”

In a reply brief filed last month, Weiss noted that the issue has been taken under advisement by the chancery court with a ruling scheduled for Feb. 20.

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