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)

  • 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.