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29-Sep-19 – An attorney formerly with a Chicago law firm that specializes in condominium law has been suspended for one year by the Illinois Supreme Court commission that regulates the state’s legal profession.

According to the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, Michael Shifrin, of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit at the time, made changes using his firm’s office management software that made it appear he had brought in an extra $202,881 in billings, giving him more than $30,000 in additional compensation.

The ARDC says Shifrin knowingly made more than 200 unauthorized changes over four years between May 2014 and April 2018. He has since repaid the money he made from the scheme.

On April 26, an ARDC hearing board recommended that Shifrin be suspended. At the hearing, Shifrin admitted to making the changes and testified he was frustrated with how the firm’s billings were credited to attorneys. He also felt, according to the board’s report, that “other people were riding on his coattails.”

Michael Shifrin

Shifrin (left) had been with KSN since 2007. In 2014, he became a non-equity principal at the firm, working in its condominium department. He taught classes for Community Association Institute, a trade association that assists volunteer members of condo boards. He was once co-chair of CAI’s membership committee.

To direct additional compensation to himself, Shifrin had to take money away from other lawyers at KSN, including Managing Principal Robert Kogen, described in the ARDC report as a friend of Shifrin’s.

“Although no clients were harmed by respondent’s dishonesty,” read the report, “his willingness to steal from his own partners and close friend is a disturbing circumstance which indicates to us that something more than a short suspension is needed to protect the public.”

The report says Shifrin discovered accidentally that he could make such changes from his office computer and told a colleague about it, a colleague who later lost compensation due to Shifrin’s unauthorized changes.

A licensed attorney since 2005, Shifrin is no longer employed by KSN and instead has his own law practice, representing homeowner associations.

The suspension, announced by the ARDC on September 16, starts on October 7.