Illinois law firm founder faces suspension for faking capital contribution

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The skyline is seen in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/John Gress

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(Reuters) - Illinois officials this week recommended a five-month suspension for an attorney who admitted he lied and fabricated documents to convince his partners he had invested tens of thousands of dollars into launching their firm.

Chicago lawyer James Rollins fooled his colleagues into thinking he had paid more than $81,000 toward his promised $100,000 capital contribution to Sinars Rollins LLC when he really only paid $18,000, an Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission hearing board said Thursday.

Rollins admitted to the deception when his fellow partners confronted him in 2017, the hearing board said. His admissions, as well as his willingness to take responsibility, merited a shorter suspension than what an ARDC prosecutor had recommended, it said.

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"Upon observing and hearing his testimony, we found his regret to be deep and genuine," the board said.

Rollins, represented by Samuel Manella, a business law professor at DePaul University Driehaus College of Business, told the board that when the misconduct occurred he had not been paid for eight or nine months and was "barely getting by, trying to save his house and marriage and support his then-infant children."

Rollins and Manella did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Rollins, according to his LinkedIn profile, left the firm, now known as Sinars Slowikowski Tomaska, in 2019. He is now a partner at Chicago-based Sullivan & Associates.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.