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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-022


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on May 20, 2003, with an effective date of June 19, 2003. 1

In March of 2000, a client retained the respondent to draft a separation agreement, complaint for divorce and other necessary papers in order to obtain an uncontested divorce. On January 24, 2001, the client and her husband executed the separation agreement that the respondent had drafted. The respondent was then to file the separation agreement and a complaint for divorce pursuant to G.L. c. 208, § 1A. As of May 13, 2002, the respondent had failed to file any papers. On that day the client demanded, both by letter and by leaving a telephone message, that the respondent return her file. The respondent did not reply.

The client also filed a complaint with Bar Counsel. On May 20, 2002, Bar Counsel forwarded a copy of the client’s May 13, 2002 letter to the respondent. By letter dated May 24, 2002, the respondent advised Bar Counsel that she would either continue to work on the case or return the file. By letter dated June 3, 2002, Bar Counsel advised the respondent that the client would like her complete file returned to her. The respondent did not reply and by letter dated June 18, 2002, Bar Counsel again requested a response.

By letter received on July 17, 2002, the respondent notified Bar Counsel that she had forwarded the client’s file. However, the client did not receive the file. On July 24, 2002, and July 26, 2002, Bar Counsel informed the respondent that the file had not been received and requested that the respondent send a copy of the file directly to Bar Counsel. The respondent did not respond to the messages or to Bar Counsel’s subsequent letters and phone calls. The client never received her file.

On October 10, 2002 the respondent was immediately administratively suspended from the practice of law by order of the Supreme Judicial Court as a result of her failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel. The Order of Immediate Administrative Suspension provided that, if the respondent were not reinstated within thirty days, she was subject to the compliance requirements as set forth in S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 17. The respondent was not reinstated to the practice of law within thirty days and failed to comply with the terms of the order.

The respondent’s neglect of a legal matter entrusted to her was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4. The respondent’s failure to return a client file upon demand was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(e).

The respondent’s failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel was in violation S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 3, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.1(b) and 8.4(g).

On January 7, 2003, Bar Counsel filed a petition for discipline against the respondent. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition or otherwise to cooperate in the disciplinary process and, pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 8(3), the allegations were therefore deemed admitted. On April 15, 2003, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the court that the respondent be suspended for a period of one year and one day. On May 21, 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County so ordered.

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 Supreme Judicial Court.

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