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City Spotlight

May 21, 2010

City lawyer honored by court

A Haverhill attorney is one of two statewide to receive the eighth William J. LeDoux Award for extraordinary efforts in helping a client recover financial losses.

Russell Channen, a partner in the law firm of Phillips, Gerstein & Channen since 1995, and Amherst attorney S. Peter Ziomek Jr. will receive te award from Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin.

The award is given to lawyers who work with the Clients' Security Board, a voluntary post in which lawyers review cases of alleged abuse by attorneys against their clients.

Channen's law partner, Herb Phillips, said the award is not given annually, but rather when an attorney performs especially admirably.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and New England Law, Boston, Channen represented a client who was the executor of his uncle's estate.

The uncle died in an automobile accident in 2006. The client retained a now-deceased lawyer to pursue the estate's interests in bringing a wrongful death claim. The lawyer settled the claim and received more than $100,000, and misappropriated the entire amount, instead of turning it over to the estate.

Channen first located and then pursued real estate assets of the deceased lawyer in two states. When title searches revealed valid encumbrances far in excess of the values of the respective properties, Channen filed claims with the lawyer's estate only to learn that the estate had no assets beyond the two encumbered properties.

His last attempt was to file a claim on behalf of his client against the deceased lawyer's personal catastrophe liability policy. That recovery was barred by the policy's specific exclusion for losses related to providing or failing to provide professional services.

The board awarded his client $90,000.

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