Illinois Officials Seek Disbarment of Ex-McDermott Partner Who Allegedly Lied On School Financial Aid Form

Former McDermott Will & Emery partner Bruce Paul Golden is facing disbarment in Illinois after officials learned that he had allegedly lied about his income on a financial aid form for a private school. The school is Francis W. Parker, one of the most affluent schools in Chicago. I graduated from Parker’s traditional rival, Latin School of Chicago. Both are ridiculously expensive, but Golden is accused of actually altering his tax forms to establish a base for support.

After graduating from Harvard in 1969, Golden worked at McDermott for over 20 years until he was let go in 1991. The alleged false information given to Parker occurred after he lost his job. He was then accused of dodging service, filing meritless pleadings, and according to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission “continually blamed others for everything wrong in his life.” With a divorce in the mix, it sounds like Golden’s life was falling apart — which might be a mitigating circumstance. However, the most serious charge is the false information. It is exceptionally rare for such an allegation to make it to the bar.

He sent in applications for support to Parker for the 1999-2000 school year, the 2002-03 school year, and the 2003-04 school year. As part of the Parents’ Financial Statement, parents were required to submit a copy of the federal income tax return they had filed for the preceding year.

“Respondent prepared and signed the Parents’ Financial Statement for each of the three academic years involved. By signing the Parents’ Financial Statement, Respondent declared the information in the document was true, correct, and complete.

In each Parents’ Financial Statement, Respondent significantly underreported the income obtained during the preceding year. The admitted allegations of the Complaint established Respondent knew the information he placed on the Parents’ Financial Statements was false and intended to mislead Parker. The admitted allegations of the Complaint also constituted proof the tax returns Respondent submitted to Parker were not accurate copies of his tax returns, but altered copies containing false information.
Based on the false information thus provided, Parker awarded financial aid to Respondent’s daughter. Specifically, Parker gave Respondent’s daughter $6,160 in financial aid for the 2001-02 school year, $7,884 in financial aid for the 2002-03 school year; and $8,786 for the 2003-04 school year. Respondent’s family would not have been eligible for the financial aid awarded for these years if Respondent had not submitted false information.”

There was a division on the panel with one member suggesting a three-year suspension. I would have expected such a suspension as opposed to a disbarment in most such cases. Because this did not involve a client, a suspension is generally the response to acts of personal misrepresentation. Attorneys are routinely accused of bad checks and other offenses without facing disbarment or even suspension. The recommendation below makes it sound like Golden infuriated the board with his aggressive and perhaps unprofessional conduct in his own case.

Here is the board recommendation.

Source: Law Profs

9 thoughts on “Illinois Officials Seek Disbarment of Ex-McDermott Partner Who Allegedly Lied On School Financial Aid Form”

  1. According to the ARDC report, Golden listed one of the following facts in mitigation of his offense:

    “He testified he had an abnormality in the brain.”

    Golden fraudulently obtained $23K in services from this school. I know examiners are tougher on lawyer who steals from clients, but this theft by fraud would be a felony in Illinois if it had been prosecuted. He would have been disbarred automatically if he had been convicted of a felony.

    If this man were not suffering from a mental disorder, he would have surrendered his license when caught instead of playing games like refusing to accept a certified mail delivery. I am admitted in Illinois and am glad he’s “gone.”

  2. I’m sorry to be cynical here, but the “bar” (so to speak) for lawyers’ conduct is fairly low. As the Prof said, it isn’t unusual for attorneys to be charged with the fairly serious crime of writing bad checks (a type of fraud) and don’t face permanent disbarment. It leads me to wonder if this was a particularly messed up guy on a lot of levels, in the style, perhaps, of Orly Taitz (but hopefully without the undercurrent of racism – you know, just good, old, clean nasty/crazy.)

    (sarcastic school rivalry mode ON)
    Personally, I’m a graduate of St. Ignatius, so I can rest assured that I received a vastly superior education than Parker or Latin (or UofC Lab School, for that matter) but at a merely VERY expensive price to my parents (as opposed to “ridiculously expensive”)
    (sarcastic school rivalry mode OFF)

    (Although I did spend a few summers in grammar school at Latin learning to program on the freakin’ MAINFRAME COMPUTER (!?!) they had, not for administration, but just for student education/use.)

    At Ignatius, in addition to the wheeze-inducing tuition, there was a (ahem) “firm” encouragement for each family to do an additional few thousand dollars a year in fund raising. I wonder if Latin/Parker/Lab/etc. had a similar “tuition plus” setup?

    Still, we privileged kids could squabble all we wanted, the public school kids at Lane Tech and the Illinois Math/Science Academy would hand our rear ends to us at the Math Olympiad most years…

  3. AY,
    You could be right that the divorce case had something to do with this information come to the attention of the Bar. I wonder if this guy is related to Judge Golden out in the suburbs? Her husband is a former Illinois State Bar president.

  4. So when are they going after Gonzales, Yoo and Bebee? Just asking….

    I think the difference in this case is the intentional act of concealment…Not only did he not report all income…etc….but he did an act with the intent to defraud….actually defrauded, but for his acts the child/family would not have been eligible for…

    I wonder how they came to learn about this information…..hmm….seems that if the wife complained she too would be obligated to the IRS if they filed a Joint Return….then again…some don’t seem to understand that if she did the notification…they may have well slaughtered the fattened cow at the most inappropriate….I am sure that IL has as part of the ethical obligations is to inform on another attorney if they have knowledge of criminal acts of another attorney….or they can be sanctioned for not informing on a colleague….

    “In September 1988, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion in a disciplinary case, suspending a lawyer for one year because the lawyer failed to report another lawyer’s misconduct. The decision rocked the legal profession in Illinois and beyond. For Illinois practitioners, the name of the unfortunate lawyer disciplined in the case of In re Himmel,1 has become synonymous with the reporting obligation set forth in Rule 8.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. Indeed, in Illinois legal vernacular, “Himmel” is a verb, as in “to Himmel another lawyer” by reporting her misconduct.”

  5. mespo – I don’t think I have ever seen that whole quote, I am going to save that. It is even better then the universally know fragment.

  6. What person(s) with power did Golden piss off? While I respect lawyers in general, I also believe that there are perhaps 20% of the profession that are equally as ethically challenged as Mr. Golden and we don’t see them disbarred. I would say that 20% figure is ball park for many, if not most professionals and artisans.

  7. It is quite obvious from his actions that he cannot practice law in any rational manner, so disbarrment is appropriate. I believe that he does have a severe mental disability as shown by his refusal to even do the minimal in order to contest the proceedings. They acted correctly and it would appear he has some form of dementia.

  8. The sanction is as much a reflection of the attorney’s response to the allegations as the underlying misconduct.

  9. “After graduating from Harvard in 1969, Golden worked at McDermott for over 20 years until he was let go in 1991.”


    Sometimes power and integrity do not go traipsing hand-in-hand — most of the time, perhaps.

    ” All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you super add the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

    ~Lord Acton

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