Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Wrong Way To Wind Up A Practice

The South Carolina Supreme Court imposed a definite suspension of no longer than two years and ordered restitution in a matter where the attorney left practice for a different career. The facts:

Respondent operated a solo practice in Barnwell for approximately fifteen years.  In October 2007, she closed her law office after training to teach high school.  At the time, respondent had more than fourteen active clients.  She did not notify her clients, opposing counsel, or the courts that she had ceased practicing law.  Further, although she had ceased going to her office, she did not make arrangements to have her mail forwarded or to notify the South Carolina Bar of her current mailing address. 

In April 2008, respondent was suspended from the practice of law for non-payment of license fees.  In June 2008, she was suspended for failure to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements.  Respondent did not notify her clients that she had been suspended.

Respondent failed to respond to several inquiries from ODC and to Notices of Full Investigation.  Although she did appear to give statements pursuant to subpoena in two matters, she did not produce all of the subpoenaed records or her trust account records.  On October 1, 2009, respondent was placed on interim suspension after she failed to respond to subsequent disciplinary inquiries and failed to appear for a Rule 19(c), RLDE, interview in September 2009.  Id.  At the time of her interim suspension, respondent still had not informed her clients that she had closed her law office. 

The sanction was ordered retroactive to the date of the interim suspension. (Mike Frisch)

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