The house edge: On gambling and professional discipline

Abstract

On March 26, 2014, the Iowa Supreme Court revoked the license to practice law of Cedar Rapids attorney Susan Hense. Admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1996, Hense subsequently misappropriated $837,000 in client trust funds to feed her addiction to casino gambling. This Article assesses how attorneys like Hense who are addicted to gambling are treated in professional disciplinary actions, including license suspension, revocation, and reinstatement proceedings. Themes that emerge include public misunderstanding of gambling disorder, stigma against individuals with gambling disorder, statutory recognition of substance addictions but not behavioral addictions, and mandatory attendance at religion- based fellowship meetings as a condition of license reinstatement. An important contribution to both the health law and professional responsibility literatures, this Article makes five specific proposals designed to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of individuals with gambling disorder in future professional disciplinary proceedings.

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