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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2002-023

IN RE: PATRICIA J. MCGRATH

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Sosman on April 22, 2002.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was admitted to practice on December 14, 1988. She neglected the cases of six clients and failed to respond to their requests for information on the status of their respective cases. The respondent also misrepresented to five of these clients the status of their cases.

In Count One, the respondent caused delay and prejudice to her client by failing to promptly file a divorce complaint and by misrepresenting the status of the clientís legal matter. The respondent failed to provide the file to successor counsel after she was discharged by the client or to refund the retainer. The respondent failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís requests for information and intentionally misrepresented to Bar Counsel that she had filed her clientís complaint for divorce, had returned the file and had refunded the retainer.

In Count Two, the respondent filed a complaint for divorce on behalf of the client, but failed to serve the divorce complaint upon the clientís spouse and to prosecute the complaint. The respondent misrepresented the status of the case to the client and to Bar Counsel, caused the client years of delay in proceeding with his divorce, failed to file a motion to withdraw after she was discharged and failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation.

In Count Three, the respondent failed to investigate the clientís personal injury case, failed to file a timely complaint within the statute of limitations resulting in a dismissal with harm to the client. The respondent misrepresented the status of the case to her client, and she failed to inform the client that the case had been dismissed due to the respondentís failure to commence the action within the statute of limitations. The respondent also failed to provide the file to successor counsel after her services were terminated and failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation.

In Count Four, the respondent filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on behalf of the client but failed to include the necessary documents, including a statement of financial affairs, a debtorís statement of intent and a disclosure of attorney compensation. The bankruptcy court issued an order to update the petition requiring the respondent to file the missing documents, but the respondent failed to do so, and caused the clientís case to be dismissed for failure to comply with the order. The respondent failed to notify the client that the case had been dismissed, and intentionally misrepresented to the client and to Bar Counsel that the case was pending. The respondent also failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation.

In Count Five, the respondent filed a complaint on behalf of the client in a personal injury matter. The respondent failed to produce documents in response to discovery requests, failed to inform the clients when their case was dismissed, and misrepresented to the clients that the matter was still pending in court. After her services were terminated, the respondent failed to send the clientís file to successor counsel upon request by the client. The respondent also misrepresented the status of the case to Bar Counsel.

In Count Six, the respondent filed a complaint on behalf of the client against two defendants, and she took no further action to advance the clientís interests. The respondent was served with a motion to dismiss by one of the parties and failed to notify the client, oppose the motion or appear at the hearing. The respondent also failed to inform the client of the motion for summary judgment filed by the other party, and she failed to oppose the motion. The respondent failed to notify the client that a judgment of dismissal of the clientís claims entered, and she failed to move to reconsider or vacate the judgment. The respondent also failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation.

In Count Seven, the respondent was served with a subpoena requiring her to appear at the Office of the Bar Counsel. She failed to appear on the required date. On March 3, 2000, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County issued an order administratively suspending the respondent from the practice of law pursuant to S.J.C. 4:01, ß 3, for her failure to respond to Bar Counselís requests for information. The respondent never sought reinstatement and subsequently failed to file an affidavit of compliance or otherwise comply with the order.

The respondentís conduct in these matters violated Canon One, DR 1-102(A) (4), (5) and (6), Canon Two, DR 2-110(A) (3) and (4), Canon Six, DR 6-101(A) (3), Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A) (1), (2) and (3), Canon Nine, DR 9-102(B) (4), and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3, for conduct preceding January 1, 1998. The respondentís conduct on and after January 1, 1998, violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2 (a), 1.3, 1.4 (a) and (b), 1.16 (a)(3) and (d), 8.1(b), 8.4 (c), (d), (g) and (h), and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ßß 3 and (17).

In aggravation, the respondent has a disciplinary history consisting of an admonition for similar misconduct, Admonition No. 93-30, involving neglect, conflict of interest, failure to return client files to successor counsel, and failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation in two cases.

Bar Counsel filed and served the respondent with a seven-count petition for discipline on November 20, 2001. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition for discipline. By letter from the Board of Bar Overseers dated December 14, 2001, the Board notified the respondent that the allegations in the petition were deemed admitted.

On February 11, 2002, the Board voted to recommend that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years. The Court entered an order for a three-year suspension effective immediately upon the entry of order on April 22, 2002.

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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