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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2000-044

IN RE: DEBORAH A. CONLEY

S.J.C. Order (Two-year Suspension) entered by Justice Greaney on November 9, 2000, with an effective date of December 8, 2000. 1

SUMMARY 2

On June 8, 1998, the respondent was suspended by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire for two years, effective immediately. The suspension arose from the respondent's neglect of her clients' civil matter, and for engaging in the practice of law while suspended from practice, as follows.

The respondent was admitted to practice in the State of New Hampshire in 1991. She was suspended from the practice of law in New Hampshire in February of 1994 for non-payment of dues. On or about April 8, 1996, the respondent agreed to represent two clients regarding a civil action which had been brought against them in a New Hampshire court. The return date for filing an answer to the complaint was May 7, 1996. The respondent told the clients that she would represent them in the civil matter, and at no time did she advise them that she was not licensed to practice law in the State of New Hampshire.

The respondent did not file an appearance or an answer and counterclaim in the action against her clients, and did not file an objection to the petition to attach real estate that had been filed with the complaint. The respondent misrepresented to her clients that she had filed her appearance. As a result of the respondent's failure to file the appropriate pleadings, a default was entered against her clients and the petition to attach was granted. Upon receiving notice of the Court's ruling, the respondent took no action to set aside the default except to suggest to her clients that they retain new counsel. Subsequently through the efforts of successor counsel, the clients succeeded in removing the default. The respondent reimbursed the clients for the legal fees associated with this effort.

The respondent admitted that she violated the following provisions of the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 1.1(b)(5), by failing to file an appearance, answer and counterclaim on behalf of her clients in the matter in which she was retained; Rule 1.1(c)(4), by failing to undertake actions for her clients in a timely and effective manner; Rule 1.3(a), by failing to act with reasonable promptness and diligence; Rule 1.16(a)(1), by agreeing to represent clients at a time when she was aware that her license to practice law had been suspended; Rule 5.5(a), by engaging in the practice of law when her license to practice was under suspension; and Rule 8.4(c), by making misrepresentations to her clients that she had filed an appearance on their behalf.

The respondent was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth on December 20, 1990. She was administratively suspended in Massachusetts for failure to pay bar dues on November 3, 1995 and has never sought reinstatement.

On September 1, 2000, bar counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. On September 5, 2000, the respondent was served with a copy of the petition and an order of notice directing her to file an answer to the petition within thirty days. The respondent did not file a response to the petition. The respondent did not appear at the hearing scheduled by the Supreme Judicial Court for November 6, 2000. On November 9, 2000, the Court entered an order suspending the respondent for two years from the practice of law in Massachusetts.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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