Lori Deveny’s Biggest Bluff
In nearly 30 years of practice, the Oregon State Bar (OSB) had not received a single professional complaint against one of their most dynamic and involved stars, Lori Deveny, an attorney who specialized in representing people with traumatic brain injuries.
But in November 2017, Deveny’s perfect record suddenly and dramatically came to an end. The allegations that began to roll in that fall and winter were shocking: Deveny was accused of stealing settlement money from her vulnerable clients. In doing so, Deveny had even allegedly forged their signatures on checks. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were missing.
It even became uncomfortably possible that Deveny had chosen her specialty calculatingly — after all, people with memory loss and other cognitive problems made for dependably easy victims.
The smoking crater that replaced Deveny’s career left Portland’s legal community stunned. However, when the dust finally settles¹ on Deveny, what will be acknowledged as the most disturbing aspect of the shameful matter was the lack of urgency shown by the OSB, and their complete failure to perform their most important duty: that of providing protection to the public.
And in unraveling the OSB’s tangled yarn regarding Deveny, it is helpful to compare it to another of the bar’s twisted messes — one that went down contemporaneously and in the same region, but with very different results.
As the OSB’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel Office (ODC) began to fully grasp the magnitude of Deveny’s alleged theft and deception, and due to her failure to cooperate with or even respond to their investigations, they made the decision to suspend her. This type of interim suspension theoretically ends only in punishment or exoneration.
Their March 21, 2018 petition for suspension cited the ODC’s belief that Deveny’s continued practice of law was likely to “result in immediate and irreparable harm to her clients and the public at large.” It also suggested that the amount of money Deveny was accused of stealing was climbing as more complaints came in.
Yet nearly a month would pass before the petition for suspension was resolved — and not by order of the Supreme Court…