Former BigLaw attorney gets 1-year suspension for trading on information learned as conflicts counsel
A former Cozen O’Connor attorney has agreed to a one-year suspension of his law license in Pennsylvania for using information that he learned as a conflicts attorney to buy stock in advance of a merger.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court imposed the suspension Monday for lawyer William E. Gericke, report Law.com and Law360.
The Legal Profession Blog noted the suspension and linked to the Jan. 13 joint petition in support of discipline.
Gericke, now 61, earned a profit of $10,000 by trading in the stock of firm client Liberty Property Trust, according to the joint petition for discipline. Gericke bought the stock in October 2019 after a tax partner asked Gericke to run a conflicts check on another company, Prologis, before a possible merger with Liberty Property Trust.
Gericke left Cozen O’Connor in August 2021. The law firm previously told Law.com that Gericke’s alleged conduct violated the law, as well as the firm’s policies and procedures.
“When we became aware of Mr. Gericke’s activity, we took prompt and appropriate action, including cooperating with the SEC,” the firm told Law.com in a statement. “We are glad that this matter has been resolved and that the behavior of the former employee resulted in no harm to our client.”
Gericke later acknowledged in an interview with representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that his purchase violated SEC rules. He paid a $20,000 fine as part of a November 2021 settlement with the SEC.
The suspension takes effect April 19. Gericke joined Dugan, Brinkmann, Maginnis and Pace after leaving Cozen, according to Law.com, but he is not currently listed as a lawyer on the new firm’s website.
Gericke’s lawyer, Josh J.T. Byrne, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.