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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2006-051

IN RE: JULIE M. PRADO

S.J.C. Judgment of Indefinite Suspension entered by Justice Greaney on September 2, 2008.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent engaged in misconduct in three separate client matters. In addition, she failed to cooperate with bar counselís investigations of the grievances, failed to comply with an order of administrative suspension and was defaulted for failure to respond to a petition for discipline.

In each the first three counts of the petition, the respondent was retained on a flat-fee basis to handle immigration matters in connection with the employment of foreign nationals by domestic businesses. The client in the first count operated a recruiting business that retained the respondent in 2002 to help its recruits obtain the permits and visas required to enter the United States for employment. Counts Two and Three involved a total of five foreign nationals working for domestic businesses under temporary visas who retained the respondent to get green cards and become permanent residents.

Beginning in 2004, the respondent failed to file papers for nine recruits and failed to follow up on about five other recruit matters she had previously filed. She also failed to file any papers on behalf of the other five clients in Counts Two and Three. Through 2004 and 2005, the respondent failed to communicate with or to respond to most inquiries from all of the clients in these matters. She also intentionally misrepresented to the five clients in Counts Two and Three that she had filed the necessary papers and was waiting for decisions.

By early 2006, all of the clients had learned that the respondent had not filed the papers she had agreed to file on their behalf. Either directly or through new counsel, all clients discharged the respondent and demanded their files; all but one also demanded the return of their unearned fee payments. The respondent did not respond to any of these demands and did not return the unearned portion of her fees to any of the clients. As a result of the respondentís failure to pursue matters for the recruits, many recruits were delayed in entering the United States and many went to competing recruiting firms, causing the respondentís client lost revenue.

The respondentís failure to file the necessary petitions and applications on behalf of clients was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a) and 1.3. Her failure to maintain reasonable communications with clients about the status of their cases was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4(a) and (b). Her intentional misrepresentations to clients that their applications had been filed were in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and 8.4(h). Her failure to provide clients with the requested client files upon termination, to provide an accounting of fees and to return any unearned fees was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(d) and 1.16(e).

The respondent failed without good cause to cooperate with bar counselís investigations of the three matters, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.1(b), 8.4(d), 8.4(g) and 8.4(h), and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3. She has been administratively suspended for non-cooperation and has not complied with the suspension order, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c), 8.4(d) and 8.4(h), and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ßß 3 and 17.

Bar Counsel filed and served a Petition For Discipline on May 2, 2008. In aggravation, the respondent failed to file an answer to the petition, was defaulted and failed to take any action for relief from the default.

On August 11, 2008, the Board of Bar Overseers unanimously voted to recommend that the respondent be indefinitely suspended for her misconduct. On September 2, 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Greaney, J.) entered an order indefinitely suspending the respondent from the practice of law, effective immediately.


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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