March 27, 2012
Negligent But Not Unethical
An attorney who improperly retained fees in a discrimination lawsuit settlement, failed to communicate with his client and failed to participate in the ensuing bar proceedings has been disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The court left undisturbed the hearing judge's conclusion that the failure to ensure that the client's name was on the settlement check violated the duty of competence. As a result, the settlement proceeds were seized by the government to satisfy a pre-existing obligation of the attorney. The hearing judge believed that having the check in both the names of attorney and client was "standard practice." The failure to do so was negligent but not incompetent within the meaning of Rule 1.1.
The client "never received a dime." (Mike Frisch)
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