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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-039


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on July 30, 2001, with an effective date of August 29, 2001.1


The respondent was admitted to practice on June 20, 1997. Prior to the filing of the petition for discipline, she was administratively suspended on October 20, 2000 for failing to register with the Board of Bar Overseers.

In February 1999, the respondent was retained to represent a wife in a divorce. After some initial communication with the husbandís attorney, the respondent ceased replying either to opposing counsel or to her own clientís inquiries. The husband filed a complaint for divorce in July 1999, but the respondent did not file an appearance or an answer. In March 2000, after the husband filed a complaint for contempt based on the wifeís failure to answer interrogatories, the respondentís client discharged the respondent and retained new counsel. The respondentís neglect of a legal matter entrusted to her and her failure to communicate with her client was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4.

Between February and June 1999, the respondentís client paid her a total of $10,500. During this same time period, the respondent billed the client a total of $5637, including work on an unrelated medical matter. Despite requests from both the client and Bar Counsel, the respondent failed to account for or to refund the unused portion of the retainer and failed to return the file. The respondentís conduct in this respect was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(d).

On April 12, 2000, Bar Counsel wrote to the respondent, enclosing a copy of the wifeís complaint. The respondent did not answer either that letter or letters from Bar Counsel sent later in the spring and summer of 2000. The respondent also did not appear pursuant to a subpoena issued by the Board of Bar Overseers in November 2000. Her failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation is in violation of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß3 and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g).

Bar Counsel filed a petition for discipline against the respondent on March 14, 2001. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition. By letter dated May 3, 2001, the Board of Bar Overseers notified the respondent that the allegations in the petition were deemed admitted and that she had waived her right to be heard in mitigation. The respondentís failure to cooperate in the disciplinary process was considered as a matter in aggravation.

On June 11, 2001, the Board voted to recommend to the Supreme Judicial Court that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and a day. The Court so ordered on July 30, 2001.

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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