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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA

(Before a Referee)
THE FLORIDA BAR,

Supreme Court Case


No. SC13-2136

Complainant,

The Florida Bar File Nos.


2011 -31,306 (18A); 2011 -31,492 (18A)
2012-30,257 (18A); 2012-30,344 (18A)
2012-31,004 (18A); 2012-31,153 (18A)
2012- 90,062 (18A)
And
2013- 30,890 (18A) (CMO)

v.
JEFFREY S KAUFMAN JR,
Respondent.

/
CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEA FOR CONSENT JUDGMENT
COMES NOW, the undersigned respondent, Matthew Shane Englett, and
files this Conditional Guilty Plea pursuant to R. Regulating Fla. Bar 3-7.9.
Respondent is, and at all times mentioned herein was, a member of The
Florida Bar, subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida.
1.

The respondent is acting freely and voluntarily in this matter, and

tenders this Plea without fear or threat of coercion. Respondent is represented in


this matter.
2.

As to The Florida Bar Case Nos. 2011-31,306 (18A); 2011-31,492

(18A), 2012-30,257 (18A), 302012-30,344 (18A); 2012-31,004 (18A); 201231,153 (18A); and 2012-90,062 (18A) there has been a finding of probable cause
by the grievance committee.

3.

As to The Florida Bar Case Nos. 2013-30,890 (18A) (CMO)

respondent waives a finding of probable cause.


4.

The disciplinary measures to be imposed upon the respondent are as

follows:
A.

A public reprimand administered by the Board of

B.

Attendance at Ethics School within six months of the

Governors;

issuance of the Court's order;


C.

Respondent shall be responsible for payment of the

$750.00 fee associated with Ethics School and failure to pay such fees
and/or attend Ethics School may be cause for further proceedings;
D.

Respondent shall also complete 5 additional hours of

Continuing Legal Education in ethics, in addition to the 5 hours of credit


received by attending Ethics School and in addition to the 5 hours required
to comply with R. Regulating Fla. Bar 6-10.3(b);
E.

Respondent shall be responsible for the costs of the

Continuing Legal Education courses;


F.

Failure to complete the 5 additional hours within six

months of the Court's order may be cause for further proceedings; and
G.

Payment of the bar's costs.

5.

The following allegations provide the basis for respondent's guilty

plea and for the discipline to be imposed in this matter:


A.

Respondent is a partner in a law firm that provides a variety of

services including, but not limited to foreclosure defense, loan modifications, and
bankruptcy. Due to the growth of the law firm during the home mortgage crisis
much of the communication between clients of the firm and the firm was handled
by nonattorney staff. At times, clients had a difficult time speaking directly with
an attorney about their matters and/or found it difficult to get timely accurate
information about the status of their matters.
B.

In order to handle the potential clients that called or walked-in,

respondent and his partners set up an in-take department. The nonlawyer intake
personnel gathered information from the prospective clients and assisted them with
signing representation contracts for the firm. Respondent and his partners paid
these intake personnel bonuses.
6.

Pursuant to the foregoing, respondent is guilty of violating the

following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: 4-1.4(b) A lawyer shall explain a
matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed
decisions regarding the representation; and 4-5.4(a)(4) A lawyer or law firm shall
not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that: bonuses may be paid to
nonlawyer employees for work performed, and may be based on their

extraordinary efforts on a particular case or over a specified time period. Bonus


payments shall not be based on cases or clients brought to the lawyer or law firm
by the actions of the nonlawyer. A lawyer shall not provide a bonus payment that
is calculated as a percentage of legal fees received by the lawyer or law firm.
7.

Further, in aggravation, respondent was previously admonished for

advertising violations, multiple offenses occurred, and respondent has substantial


experience in the practice of law.
8.

In mitigation, respondent had no selfish or dishonest motive and he

provided full and free disclosure to the bar and was cooperative throughout the
several years the matter has pended.

Respondent has also engaged in interim

rehabilitation by addressing issues that have been raised by the bar throughout the
pendency of the matter to ensure better compliance with the rules, and has shown
remorse over the situation.
Due to the large number of clients seeking assistance, respondent and his
partners devised a non-traditional business model that they believed would be
highly efficient, would represent clients competently, and would reduce the
amount of attorneys' fees but also be one that would provide a reasonable profit in
order for respondents to have a successful law firm. In essence, what their model
called for was the segmentation of a client's matter with each segment being
handled by a different department in order to promote efficiency and better

movement on the client's file. Respondent and his partners believed this method
of working files, especially in the area of loan modifications, was better than the
traditional model implemented by most firms.
While respondent's law firm was involved in assisting the public in matters
that resulted from the home mortgage crisis, the conduct engaged in by respondent,
his partners and other members of his firm is dissimilar to that engaged in by
Marshall Craig Watson [The Florida Bar v. Watson, 117 So.3d 413 (Fla. 2012)
(Table Citation)]. At all times, respondent and his partners had in place policies
and procedures whereby employees were supervised and trained. The employees
were also provided information regarding conduct that was appropriate under the
bar's rules. When it was discovered employees failed to follow the guidelines
required, the employees were either admonished and retrained or were terminated.
Unlike Watson neither respondent nor his law firm received any complaints from
the judiciary regarding their conduct in the referenced matters. Moreover, neither
respondent, nor his partners, nor the attorney staff, nor any other staff engaged in
conduct whereby affidavits were signed outside the presence of a notary.
In the instant matter, respondent and his partners provided information to the
clients describing the manner in which the firm would handle their cases. The
outline explained that a "team" approach would be used and that numerous
individuals would work on the file. The firm also provided a secure portal by

which clients could submit documentation and review their particular matter at any
time. In addition, the respondent and his partners developed a customer service
department that would field calls regarding status updates and the like.
Respondent and his partners believed handling communications in this manner
would enable clients to obtain information efficiently and would reduce the costs
of representation because the attorneys would not have to field those types of calls.
However, respondent admits that because there was a reasonably high
turnover in employees and because multiple departments within the firm were
handling different aspects of a client's matter, at times the ease by which a client
could obtain quick, accurate information was compromised. Further, respondent
acknowledges that due to the manner in which communication was being handled,
it was difficult at times for a client to speak with an attorney and/or obtain timely
accurate information regarding their matters.
Respondent and his partners have worked to address areas of concern in
their practice.

Respondent and his partners have invested in hiring qualified

individuals to respond to the needs of the clients, have continued to invest in


training their employees, and have changed the manner and method in which
clients' matters are handled in order to ensure timely, accurate information gets to
the client and to provide clients with confidence that attorneys are available to
speak with them knowledgably about their matters.

Respondent and his partners have also changed the manner in which
nonattorney intake personnel are paid. However, respondent and his partners at all
times believed, in good faith, that the manner in which nonattorney intake
employees were being paid was not in violation of the rules. The reason for this
belief was respondent's and his partners' interpretation of the verbiage of the R.
Regulating Fla. Bar 4-5.4(a)(4) that " . . . [b]onus payments shall not be based on
cases or clients brought to the lawyer or law firm by the actions of the nonlawyer..
. . ." Respondent and his partners did not believe that the actions of the intake
personnel constituted "bringing" clients to the lawyer or law firm as contemplated
by the rule. Rather, respondent and his partners believed that the bar approved
advertising and word-of-mouth referrals from friends, and former or current clients
"brought" the clients to the firm.
However, respondent acknowledges the bar's position that the payment of a
bonus to the intake personnel constituted fee sharing. In recognition of the fact
their conduct, no matter how well intentioned, may be a violation of the rules,
respondent and his partners terminated the bonus payments and now pay their
intake personnel hourly wages.
Respondent and his partners do not deny that, like any law firm, they wish
for their firm to be profitable and successful. However, there has been no showing
that the conduct engaged in by respondent or his partners was based upon

dishonesty or selfish motive. Rather, while admitting the firm was not always
successful and that changes were appropriate in order to provide better
representation to the firm's clients, the firm also assisted thousands of people
during the time period involved in the instant proceedings and did so for a
reasonable cost to the clients. Even though respondent and his partners stand
behind their position that a vast majority of their clients were satisfied with the
firm's representation, respondent and his partners fully admit that there were
numerous clients that were not satisfied. In light of that dissatisfaction and
respondent's and his partners' desire to fully address the issues that have arisen,
additional and/or new policies and procedures have been implemented over time.
Respondent, his partners, and their staff, both attorney and nonattorney, have
worked and are continuing to work to ensure adequate representation to the firm's
clients and to address the specific areas that have been raised by dissatisfied
clients.
Additionally, respondent and his partners have been cooperative with the bar
throughout the pendency of the bar's disciplinary proceeding. Respondent and his
partners have provided all documentation requested and have attempted to address
concerns raised by the bar in a timely manner. Further, respondent and his partners
requested that the bar tour their office in order to show the bar how their office
functioned and to further explain why they believed the manner in which they were

having their staff and attorneys handle client matters was efficient, responsive, and
competent. Respondent and his partners have consistently shown they are willing
to address matters of concern brought to their attention. Likewise, respondent and
his partners have shown they are willing to address the manner in which they
conduct not only the business side of their law practice but also the legal side of
their practice to comply not only with the letter of the rules but also with the spirit
of the rules governing attorney conduct.
9.

The Florida Bar has approved this proposed plea in the manner

required by Rule 3-7.9.


10.

I f this plea is not finally approved by the referee and the Supreme

Court of Florida, then it shall be of no effect and may not be used by the parties in
any way.
11.

I f this plea is approved, then the respondent agrees to pay all

reasonable costs associated with this case pursuant to R. Regulating Fla. Bar 37.6(q) in the amount of $3,759.66. These costs are due within 30 days of the court
order. Respondent agrees that i f the costs are not paid within 30 days of this
court's order becoming final, the respondent shall pay interest on any unpaid costs
at the statutory rate. Respondent further agrees not to attempt to discharge the
obligation for payment of the Bar's costs in any future proceedings, including but
not limited to, a petition for bankruptcy. Respondent shall be deemed delinquent

and ineligible to practice law pursuant to R. Regulating Fla. Bar 1-3.6 i f the cost
judgment is not satisfied within 30 days of the final court order, unless deferred by
the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar.
12.

The respondent acknowledges the obligation to pay the costs of this

proceeding and that payment is evidence of strict compliance with the conditions
of any disciplinary order or agreement, and is also evidence of good faith and fiscal
responsibility.

Respondent understands that failure to pay the costs of this

proceeding or restitution may reflect adversely on any reinstatement proceedings


or any other bar disciplinary matter in which the respondent is involved.
13.

I f this plea is approved, and restitution is owed, i f the person to whom

restitution is owed cannot be located after a diligent search, respondent shall


execute an affidavit of diligent search and provide same to The Florida Bar and
shall pay the full amount of the restitution to the Clients' Security Fund of The
Florida Bar within 30 days of the date of the affidavit of diligent search.
This Conditional Guilty Plea for Consent Judgment fully complies with all
requirements of The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
Dated this _21st_ day of August 2014.
Is/ Jeffrey S. Kaufman, Jr.
Jeffrey S Kaufman Jr.
Respondent
Kaufman, Englett & Lynd PLLC
111 N Magnolia Avenue, Suite 1600
Orlando, Florida 32801-1524
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(407)513-1900:
Florida Bar No.: 99538
jk21aw@,aol.com

Dated this 21st day of August 2014.

/s/D. Culver Smith III


D Culver Smith III
Counsel for Respondent
Culver Smith III, P.A.
500 S Australian Avenue, Suite 600
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401-6237
(561) 598-6800
Florida Bar ID No.: 105933
csmith@culversmithlaw.com

Dated this 21st day of August 2014.

JoAnn Marie Stalcup


BarCounsel
The Florida Bar
Orlando Branch Office
The Gateway Center
1000 Legion Place, Suite 1625
Orlando, Florida 32801-1050
(407) 425-5424
Florida Bar No. 972932
j stalcup@flabar.org
orlandooffice@flabar.org

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