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 who , among other misconduct, failed to provide competent representation; failed to provide diligent representation in time-sensitive immigration matters and waited months to file documents in three separate immigration cases; failed to keep clients reasonably informed about status of matters, promptly comply with clients' reasonable requests for information, and explain matters to extent reasonably necessary to permit clients to make informed decisions regarding representation; charged and collected attorney's fees for services that she failed to provide to any meaningful degree or at all; failed to deposit attorney's fees and filing fees into attorney trust account; failed to deposit attorney's fees into attorney trust account prior to fees being earned and without clients' informed consent, confirmed in writing, to different arrangement; failed to reasonably protect her clients' interests and timely surrender papers and property to which clients were entitled; and engaged in conduct that would negatively impact perception of legal professional of reasonable member of the public?

Holding: As the attorney's misconduct was aggravated the vulnerability of the victims and a refusal to acknowledge the misconduct's wrongful nature of her misconduct, the Court indefinitely suspended the attorney from the practice of law with right to apply for reinstatement after ninety days.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct ("MLRPC") 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a)(2), 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Reasonable Fees), 1.15(a), 1.15(c) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Terminating Representation), 8.4(d) (Conduct That is Prejudicial to Administration of Justice), and 8.4(a) (Violating MLRPC).

Citation: 446 Md. 294 (2016)