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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2007-11


Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board April 23, 2007.


The respondent received a public reprimand for the conduct described below.

On December 10, 1999, the respondent filed a voluntary chapter 13 petition for bankruptcy on behalf of a client. In January of 2000, he filed an amended disclosure form 2016(b) entitled “compensation statement of attorney for the debtor(s)”. In the statement, the respondent disclosed that his total fee “in connection with” the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case was $2,500. The respondent thereafter performed substantial legal services for his client of a value exceeding the sum disclosed in the bankruptcy, including but not limited to: responding to objections to confirmation of plans, filing a motion to sell a future income stream, opposing several motions for relief from automatic stay and challenging an adversary proceeding. However, at no time did the respondent petition the bankruptcy court for authorization to charge more than $2,500.

On January 25, 2001, for reasons unrelated to any action or inaction by the respondent, the bankruptcy petition was dismissed and, on February 12, 2001, the case was closed. After the bankruptcy case was closed, the client agreed to and did compensate the respondent $19,691 for the work that he had performed in connection with the bankruptcy petition and for other unrelated work. A portion, but not the entirety, of the lump sum payment that the respondent received reflected compensation for services in connection with the bankruptcy.

By local rule 2106(b), the respondent was not permitted to charge or collect the additional compensation for bankruptcy related work without a supplemental Rule 2106(b) statement and prior court approval. The respondent did not petition the bankruptcy court for authorization to accept the additional compensation for the bankruptcy related work. The client retained new counsel and on June 29, 2005, the client filed a complaint with bar counsel. The respondent has agreed to refund the fees paid in connection with the bankruptcy matter over and above the amount approved by the court.

In aggravation, the respondent has a prior admonition for borrowing funds from a client in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.8(a). AD No. 03-20, 19 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 556 (2003).

The respondent’s conduct in charging and collecting a fee in excess of the fee authorized constituted the charging and the collection of an illegal fee, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.5.

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 parties’ 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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