Slipped Disks

The Bar’s botched custodianship over Lori Deveny’s files

This week, one of the many victims/ex-clients of disgraced former Portland attorney and serial fraudster Lori Deveny received a package from the Oregon State Bar. The mailer contained apparently newly-discovered material from the file that Deveny kept for the client’s legal matter, which the Bar claims it took custody of in late 2018.

However, the packet also contained four CDs scrawled with case numbers and client names which were not their own. The disks were accompanied by a note from the Bar’s Deputy General Counsel, Nik Chourey, addressed “to whom it may concern.”

This disturbing breach of another client’s confidentiality amounted to just another act of ineptitude by the failing agency in a matter they had already thoroughly botched — that of their disastrous custodianship over the former law practice of their friend Lori Deveny.

Deveny’s former client does not wish to be identified and has no comment, other than that they are attempting to reunite the disks with their rightful owner while taking care not to accidentally view any potentially sensitive information contained on them. If that plan fails, the four disks will be mailed back to the Bar. It is lucky that the Bar negligently dropped the disks into such caring hands.

Notwithstanding that inevitable positive result, the Bar’s general incompetence (or worse) in the matter of their custodianship over Deveny’s files cannot be overlooked any longer.

A little backstory: Deveny resigned her law license in May 2018 to avoid a Bar investigation into her theft, forgery, and fraud. For months after, Deveny failed to comply with the easy terms of her resignation from the practice of law — most notably by continuing to practice law, but also by refusing to turn over her client files to her successor. The Bar looked the other way for nearly half a year, but was finally triggered to act to protect the public in October 2018.

At that time, Multnomah Judge Stephen Bushong ordered the Oregon State Bar to take immediate possession of Deveny’s former law practice, including her trust accounts and all client property and records.

But rather than take possession of those things, the Bar instead allowed Deveny to turn over those things, at her own speed, and only when it suited her own devices.

The Bar apoplectically denies this and demands that we believe them based on their word alone — even when their own records contradict their claims.

This is not conjecture. It is fact clearly shown in — and in fact epitomized by — the records of financial claims made by Deveny victims to the Bar’s fund for attorney misconduct. Every one of those claims shows victims first learning about the situation from law enforcement, the media, or the google — not from the Bar tasked with contacting the clients and reuniting them with their stolen property.

Therefore, this latest incident — the Case of the Slipped Disks! — presents a very clear question which the Bar must be compelled to answer:

If the Bar took possession of all of Lori Deveny’s files in October 2018 — as it claims to have done — and has been working diligently since then to return those files to her clients… then where the hell did these disks come from, three years after the fact?

If the Bar come across another seventeen boxes of “misplaced” Deveny files in their own basement (like they did in November 2019), that needs to be disclosed to the public like it was the last time.

The more (and perhaps only) plausible explanation — the one to which the Bar is apparently incapable of admitting— is that Deveny once again gave them a few additional table scrapings, which she no longer needed tight control over for whatever reason.

That is to say, it is certain that Lori Deveny is still withholding some number of files from the Oregon State Bar, despite being ordered to surrender them by four judges in four separate cases — including criminal cases in both state and federal court.

The Bar could have skated past this little problem — and probably tried to — by quietly slipping the disks into envelopes, addressing those envelopes to the correct clients, and mailing them with zero fanfare.

But the Bar literally cannot even mail an envelope without fucking it up. These are the people in charge of protecting the general public from bad attorneys, and they cannot even forcibly wrest client property out of the worst crime-spree attorney in Oregon’s history, despite her disbarment and despite four court orders permitting them to do so.

Which is to say the Bar’s ineptitude is not a bug but a feature. The bumbling fuck-uperry surrounding Deveny is deliberate. Nobody is this incompetent.

Again, this disk incident is just one small fragment of the far larger problem that is exemplified by the Oregon State Bar’s overly-reverential handling of Lori Deveny — a problem of politics, failure to protect the public, case-fixing, retaliation, and even evident criminal conduct.

All of it amounts regulatory capture, compounded by looming antitrust concerns.

And it cannot be deliberately ignored any longer by those who oversee the Bar or enable their misconduct through their indifference, such as the Oregon Supreme Court and the Legislative Assembly. It particularly must not be ignored by the Bar’s licensees, who pay their mandatory dues (not to mention mandatory malpractice insurance premiums) and get shockingly poor and unbalanced representation in return.

Every single day the Bar makes it harder for good Oregon attorneys — and there are many — to do their jobs and help their clients: the public.