AttorneyGrievances.com

About the Author

Clayton Greene, Jr.

Clayton Greene, Jr.

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMM'N v. SHEPHARD

Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, serving as “Managing Attorney” with sole signatory authority over attorney trust accounts at a Maryland law firm, but was not a member of the Maryland Bar?

Holding: Although this lawyer was admitted to the Bar of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland as well as the Bars of the State of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the federal Bars of those jurisdictions, she was not a member of the Maryland Bar, but engaged in the practice of law in Maryland anyway.  Serving as the managing attorney of a Maryland firm, her ineffective supervision of the firm's attorney trust account harmed clients in failing to ensure that unearned attorneys' fees were being held in trust, and by failing to issue refunds when work was not performed. In addition, though Respondent signed retainer agreements promising services to clients and initial letters on behalf of clients in furtherance of those promised services, several clients' matters were either not completed or not undertaken at all.  Taking all of this into account, the appropriate sanction is disbarment.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct ("MLRPC") Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority Between Client and Lawyer), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4 (Communication), 1.5 (Fees), 1.15(a), (c), and (d) (Safekeeping Property), 5.1 (Responsibilities of Partners, Managers, and Supervisory Lawyers), 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), 5.5 (Unauthorized Practice of Law), and 8.4(d) (Misconduct); Maryland Rule 16606.1 (Attorney Trust Account RecordKeeping);  Maryland Business Occupations and Professions Code § 10306 (Misuse of Trust Money).

Citation: Misc. Docket AG No. 22, Sept. Term, 2014