Court Finds Client's Criticism Did Not Defame Lawyer

, New York Law Journal


If the court had accepted Frechtman's claim, Bluver said, it would have undermined attorney-client privilege.

Frechtman represented himself along with Diane Kaplan. In an email, Frechtman said he was giving "serious consideration" to seeking leave appeal.

He claimed Gutterman's accusations were simply a way to avoid paying the legal fees, noting that even as Gutterman and the defendants terminated his services in three cases, they asked him to keep working on a fourth case.

"Given the fact that I was specifically asked to continue to represent those clients on one pending lawsuit—even while being discharged as their attorney on three others—I believed when I received those letters and I still believe, that the false, baseless and denigrating attack upon my professional competence, abilities and honesty was simply a ploy whose true purpose is to evade full payment of the substantial sum of money that I am owed," he said.

Frechtman, who was admitted to the bar in 1952, said no other client in his entire career has ever accused him of incompetence or dishonesty, and he fears the ruling could set a bad precedent.

"In my view, the court's decision gives clients carte blanche to disparage their attorney in order to create a reason to avoid, delay or reduce their obligations for the payment of bona fide billing for legal services, expenses and disbursements, simply by expressing their 'opinion' that the attorney has acted dishonestly or incompetently, regardless of whether there is any legitimate basis for the accusation," he said.

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