Oversight: Attorney handles professional ethics, risk management issues

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Frances Rosinski spent two decades as senior associate counsel at the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC) investigating and prosecuting allegations of attorney misconduct. Now, senior counsel in Clark Hill’s Litigation and Professional Ethics & Risk Management Practice Groups, she calls her career with the AGC a “happy happenstance.”   

“I wanted to litigate, but as the mother of a young son, I wanted a career without the pressures of client development,” she says. “As soon as I learned of the opportunity at the Attorney Grievance Commission, I knew it would be a perfect fit for my family’s schedule. I soon learned it also was a perfect fit for my belief in the integrity of the profession, and the need for oversight.”   

“Every day with every file, there was a new area of law to explore, and another attorney who needed, at least, some guidance,” she adds. “When guidance was not sufficient to remedy the situation and a trial was needed, the trial work was exciting.”
The rise of social media has caused problems, she notes.

“Attorneys post comments on Facebook, and other media in the heat of the moment that they would not likely do in a thought-out letter,” she says. “The more problematic development is e-mailing and texting between attorneys and clients, the increased billing for this activity, and the difficulty in tracking the communications for record keeping purposes. A caution is that even if the attorney does not remember using too-casual or profane language in a text, you can be sure the client remembers and has kept a copy.” 

Another lesson is that when the economy is bad, there seems to be a rise in attorneys’ unauthorized use of client or third party funds, she notes.

“The lure of funds sitting in a client trust account becomes too much when the attorney is in financial need. While many attorneys intend on putting the funds back, that is not a defense.”

During her tenure at the AGC, Rosinski was an active member of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC) Program Committee.

“It’s a wonderful resource, with constant support from around the country in a listserv and at the semi-annual meetings. The members are dedicated to the profession and the role of ethics,” she says. “As the program editor, I was able to be part of the program-building and have access to the biggest and the best ethics attorneys in the country.” 

She also was a faculty member in the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) litigation program specially designed for the NOBC. 

“NITA put on an amazing trial advocacy program in Boulder, Colorado, for just disciplinary counsel,” she says. “I learned as much as I taught.” 

In her new role at Clark Hill, Rosinski provides attorneys with legal counsel and representation in professional liability and attorney grievance matters, as well as representation in reinstatement petitions, and character and fitness proceedings. She also offers ethics consulting to small and mid-sized law firms. She serves in the firm’s Office of General Counsel, facilitating the evaluation and assessment of conflicts for the firm.

“I’m very happy to have been offered the opportunity at Clark Hill,” she says. “It draws on my experiences from as far back as private practice to my recent experience at the Attorney Grievance Commission. It’s the perfect melding of my practice over the years.” 

A member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, a Character and Fitness panel member with Michigan’s Board of Law Examiners, and a Supreme Court Administrative Office (SCAO)-trained facilitative mediator, Rosinski is a member of the Michigan State Bar, and is active in the Detroit Bar Association, where she participates as a master in its Inns of Court.

“I enjoy networking with judges and attorneys at interesting and fun events spread around Detroit,” she says.

Rosinski landed in the legal field by sheer serendipity. After graduating from Albion College and planning to enter a master’s program for international business in Arizona, she was in need of a job.

“My mom laughingly challenged me to apply for a certain job at a law firm because I couldn’t type,” she says.

After being hired at the Kitch law firm for a temporary administrative position, Rosinski decided to stay in Michigan and go to Wayne State University Law School, where she particularly appreciated the professors.

“I still feel comfortable enough to reach out if I have a question,” she says.

Awarded a research fellowship to the University of Warwick School of Law in Warwick, England, she found the English law school experience very different and interesting, and enjoyed her time overseas.

“I loved exploring Warwick and London, and researching in the London libraries,” she says. “My favorite adventure was horseback riding in Wales, where we visited a pub that dated back hundreds of years and still could not be accessed by car.”  

Born and raised in East Dearborn to a large Italian family, Rosinski now calls Allen Park home. In her leisure time, she practices yoga daily, and enjoys hiking, skiing, swimming, and watching her son Jacob Weshalek, a senior at Michigan State University, play club baseball.

“My son and I are blessed to have six other now-grown children in our lives as well—it can be a busy house,” she says. 

She gives back to the community by supporting the Detroit Waldorf School in many ways; and also often facilitates between persons in financial need because of health or personal issues and a foundation that provides financial support.
 

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