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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2002-072

IN RE: PAUL DAVID WALLINS

S.J.C. Judgment Accepting Affidavit of Resignation As A Disciplinary Sanction entered by Justice Spina on March 22, 2010.1

SUMMARY2

This matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers and the Court on the respondentís affidavit of resignation pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß 15. In the affidavit, the respondent admitted that sufficient evidence existed to warrant findings that the facts alleged in bar counselís statement of disciplinary charges could be proved, as follows.

The respondent was admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on December 22, 1975. He was suspended from the practice of law for two years effective December 15, 2002, in Matter of Wallins, 18 Mass. Attíy Disc. R. 562 (2002), and reinstated on September 18, 2006. As a condition of his reinstatement, the Courtís order required the respondent to execute a peer review agreement with bar counsel, and only practice law while in compliance the peer review agreement. On October 26, 2006, the respondent executed a peer review agreement that required the respondent to meet at least monthly with a peer review monitor to review the respondentís cases and practice to assure that he was diligently pursuing his cases and maintaining appropriate communication with his clients and other parties.

In about July of 2007, a client engaged the respondent to represent her in bringing a civil claim against a used-car dealer for selling her a defective automobile. They signed a contingent fee agreement, and the client paid the respondent an initial retainer of $250 for filing costs.

On August 21, 2007, the respondent sent a demand letter to the dealer seeking $15,000 in damages. On September 21, 2007, the dealer wrote to the respondent denying liability and offering to settle the matter by making various accommodations to the client. In October of 2007, the client rejected the dealerís proposals for settlement and directed the respondent to seek a monetary settlement from the dealer as set forth in the demand letter.

Between October of 2007 and June of 2008, the respondent took no action of substance to pursue the clientís claims, but he intentionally misrepresented to his client that he was attempting to settle the case. In about June of 2008, after consultation with his client, the respondent agreed to file a civil lawsuit against the dealer, but he did not do so. For the next year, the respondent made a series of intentional misrepresentations to his client, including that he had filed the lawsuit and gone to court on the case in December 2008 and March 2009, he was attempting to settle the case, and he had received a settlement check for $31,000 and would send it to his client.

From August 2007 to November 2008, the respondent met monthly with his peer review monitor and prepared case status reports including the clientís case. The respondent intentionally misrepresented to the peer monitor that that he was handling all his cases appropriately and on a timely basis when he knew that he had failed to pursue the clientís matter and was misrepresenting to the client the status of the case.

In the summer of 2009, the client made several different appointments to meet with the respondent to pick up the $31,000 settlement check that he told her he had received, but the respondent canceled each appointment at the last minute. On August 21, 2009, the client went to the respondentís office without an appointment and demanded to speak with him. The respondent then admitted to her that he had neither filed suit on her behalf nor settled her claim against the dealer. The client discharged the respondent and filed a request for investigation with the office of bar counsel. Thereafter, the respondent refunded the $250 in filing costs to the client.

By failing to provide competent representation to a client, to seek the lawful objectives of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law, and to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), and 1.3. By failing to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with her reasonable requests for information, and by failing to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4(a) and 1.4(b). By making intentional misrepresentations to his client, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and 8.4(h). By making intentional misrepresentations to the peer review monitor, and by continuing to practice law while in violation of the terms of conditions of reinstatement, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 4.1(a), 3.4(c), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).

The respondentís prior suspension as well as a public reprimand received in Matter of Wallins, 13 Mass. Attíy Disc. R. 824 (1997), for similar misconduct, were considered in aggravation.

On March 8, 2010, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend that the affidavit be accepted as a disciplinary sanction. The Supreme Judicial Court accepted the resignation as a disciplinary sanction on March 22, 2010, effective immediately upon entry of the judgment.


FOOTNOTES:

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 filed with the Supreme Judicial Court.



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