March 16, 2012
Attorney Not Penalized For Defending Against Bar Charges
The District of Columbia Board of Professional Responsibility has ordered Bar Counsel to issue an informal admonition to an attorney who misrepresented her bar status on letterhead and stationary.
The attorney had an office in Maryland and entered into retainer agreements in connection with predatory loan practices in three states where she is not admitted. Her only active license is in the District of Columbia.
A hearing committee had recommended a public censure, which is imposed by the Court of Appeals. The board's order here effectively ends the matter.
One interesting aspect of the board's report deals with the issues of remorse and attitude towards the misconduct. The hearing committee accepted the attorney's testimony of a subjective good faith belief that her conduct was permissible. The board states that one can vigorously defend the charges and not be penalized for a bad attitude.
The order can be found at this link. The case is In re Claudette Winstead. (Mike Frisch)
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I am a little confused about this case. While I understand the confusion caused by this lawyer using a Maryland address while only licensed in DC, I am not sure why re-negotiation of a predatory loan constitutes the practice of law. If that is the case, why aren't debt settlement companies charged with UPL?
Posted by: Carolyn Elefant | Mar 19, 2012 8:48:17 PM