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"Matter of Gonzalez v. Thelen Reid & Priest LLP, 114877-2006
Decided: February 9, 2007

Justice Carol Robinson Edmead

Supreme Court

"There are two separate and distinct classes of liens available to attorneys at law: (1) a general common-law or retaining lien on all property, including papers, books, documents, money or securities, belonging to the attorney’s client which came into the attorney’s possession in the course of the professional employment, and (2) a limited statutory lien on a specific fund or judgment on a cause of action or counterclaim, also known as a charging lien7 (In re Sebring, 238 AD 281 [4th Dept 1933]; In re Reiser, 137 AD 177 [1910]).

Here, the Law Firm’s application to quash the Subpoenas at issue is premised upon the ground that it has a retaining lien on the subject documents.

"The purpose of an attorney’s retaining lien involve inconvenience to the client" (Sorin v. Shahmoon Indus., Inc., 20 Misc 2d 149, 191 NYS2d 14 [Sup Ct, New York County 1959]). "The function of the lien is essentially one of compulsion-its aim being to assure payment of the fee due the attorney for services rendered" (Sorin v. Shahmoon Indus., Inc., 20 Misc 2d 149, supra]). Thus, the purpose of the retaining lien is to compel payment (Singer v. Four Corner Serv. Station, 105 NYS2d 77 [Sup Ct, Kings County 1951]), or secure payment of the reasonable value of the services which he or she "had rendered as attorney in the action and or for all services rendered for the client" (see Goldman v. Rafel Estates, Inc., 269 AD 647 [1st Dept 1945]). The retaining lien continues until the attorney’s charges for all services which he or she has performed for the client have been paid, "not only those pertaining to matters relating to the papers or property in his hand at the time, but also for any balance due for other professional services" (In re Sebring, 238 AD 281, supra) (emphasis added). "

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.