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: 444 Md. 299 (2015)

  • Decided on .
Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.

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By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.
 

NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
OR THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE D.C. BAR