Jacksonville attorney Ian James Christensen has been disbarred following a Jan. 18 Florida Supreme Court order over improper legal advice he allegedly gave clients who were cultivating medical marijuana, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Christensen gave clients improper legal advice concerning their use and cultivation of medical marijuana," said the state bar Feb. 27 announcement of Christensen's discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "While working with a non-lawyer who ran a medical marijuana website, Christensen brought in clients through the non-legal website and referred them to a medical professional for a medical opinion justifying the use of the drug."
The state Supreme Court disbarred Christensen despite a referee's recommendation that the attorney, who has practiced less than five years ,be found guilty of professional misconduct and be suspended, according to the high court's seven-page order.
In Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Christensen was admitted to the Florida bar April 22, 2013, according to his profile at the state bar website. He has had no other discipline before the state bar, according to his profile.
The state bar's complaint, filed against Christensen in June 2016, was referred to the referee for a report and recommendation that was submitted this past March, according to the Supreme Court's order. The referee recommended Christensen be found guilty of violating nine state bar rules, including those regarding competence, criminal/fraudulent conduct, excessive fee, conflict of interest, use of titles by non-lawyer assistants and responsible supervision of non-attorneys, according to the order.
The referee recommended Christensen be suspended for two years and be required to pay the state bar's costs of almost $9,503, according to the order. The high court concluded disbarment to be "the appropriate sanction", the order said.
"The most prominent features of Christensen's misconduct are incompetence and extremely serious harm to clients," the order said. "Under Florida Standard for Imposing Lawyer Discipline 4.51, disbarment is appropriate 'when a lawyer's course of conduct demonstrates that the lawyer does not understand the most fundamental legal doctrines or procedures, and the lawyer's conduct causes injury or potential injury to a client'. We conclude Christensen's misconduct falls into this category."