About the Author

Shirley M. Watts

Shirley M. Watts

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland


Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney whose complete mishandling of his client’s appeal resulted in its dismissal, made misrepresentations to the Court of Special Appeals and to Bar Counsel, withdrew unearned funds from his trust account, blamed his client for the dismissal and failed to refund the client’s fees?

Holding: Having exhibited willful dishonesty in the course of an appeal which he thoroughly mishandled, blaming his client for his own failures, taking unearned fees and refusing to issue a refund after his neglect resulted in the dismissal of his client's case, this attorney's misconduct warranted the sanction of disbarment.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct Rules ("MLRPC") 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Allocation of Authority Between Client and Lawyer), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4 (Communication), 1.5(a) (Reasonable Fees), 1.5(b) (Communication of Fees), 1.8(a), 1.8(h) (Conflict of Interest; Current Clients; Specific Rules), 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(c) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Terminating Representation), 3.3(a)(1) (Candor Toward the Tribunal), 8.1(a) (Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(c) (Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit, or Misrepresentation), 8.4(d) (Conduct That Is Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice), and 8.4(a) (Violating or Attempting to Violate the MLRPC), and current Maryland Rule 19-408 (Commingling of Funds).

Citation 462 Md. 280 (2019)

  • 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.


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.