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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2003-9


Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board July 18, 2003.


In September 2001, a husband and wife retained the respondent to represent them in connection with a dispute with an automobile dealership involving a car repair. It was anticipated that the respondent would prepare and file a lawsuit on their behalf. The couple signed a fee agreement with the respondent and paid him a retainer of $750.

As of December 1, 2001, the clients had not heard from the respondent. Between December 1, 2001 and October 18, 2002, the clients left at least eight voice mail messages for the respondent, inquiring as to the status of the matter. The respondent did not return any of their calls or otherwise communicate with the clients.

On October 30, 2002, the clients filed a complaint with Bar Counsel. On December 24, 2002, after receipt of the complaint, the respondent apologized to the clients for failing to address their case in a timely manner and refunded the full amount of the retainer that they had paid. Between the date that the respondent was retained and the date that he refunded the retainer, the respondent had not contacted the dealership, made any demand, or filed any pleadings in court.

The respondentís neglect of a legal matter entrusted to him and his failure to adequately communicate with his clients was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4.

The respondent also failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation of the complaint. In addition, he failed to cooperate in Bar Counselís investigation of an unrelated matter that was ultimately determined not to warrant discipline on the underlying charges. The respondentís conduct in these respects was in violation of S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g).

In aggravation, in unrelated matters in January 2002, the respondent received an admonition for failure to return a client file and failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigations of two other matters. In October 1996, in another unrelated matter, the respondent was cautioned as to his obligation to cooperate with Bar Counsel.

The respondent became overextended in his practice and in community and civic affairs. The respondent has now hired a part-time receptionist. He also attended a CLE program designated by Bar Counsel and, after taking the program, made changes to his office procedures, including setting up a computerized tickler system. He is also being more selective in accepting new cases.

This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand. The Board accepted the partiesí recommendation and imposed a public reprimand.

1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.

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