TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Vero Beach attorney Jonathan Fredrick Bull has been suspended following an Oct. 18 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he failed to properly supervise non-lawyer employees, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"The non-lawyers solicited clients, accepted legal representation on behalf of the firm, quoted legal fees, accepted payments and misappropriated client funds without [Bull]'s knowledge and consent over a period of several months," the state bar said in its Oct. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "Bull also neglected a client's account and he failed to tell clients that his law firm was closed and he was no longer representing them."
In its two-page order, the high court approved the uncontested referee's report filed before suspending Bull for a year and ordering him to pay almost $10,449 in costs. Bull's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow time to close his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order.
Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Bull's suspension
Bull was admitted to the bar in Florida on June 28, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website. Bull had no prior record of discipline in Florida, according to the referee's report.
In addition to closing his law firm without telling his client he was no longer representing them, Bull also failed to withdraw from cases, according to the referee's report. "Most important, [Bull] allowed his law office to remain open without supervision after discovering some of his staff had misappropriated client funds and practiced law without a license," the referee's report said.
Bull had been unaware of the deception the non-attorneys "set in place" and did not have a dishonest motive in the matter, which came soon after "the devastating loss of his father," the referee's report said. Bull also made a good faith effort to make restitution "or to rectify the consequences of misconduct," the referee's report said.