Attorney Grievance Investigations
Firm Handling Attorney Misconduct in Baltimore & Washington, D.C.
Nathans & Biddle LLP has successfully defended lawyers in attorney grievance proceedings, Office of Professional Responsibility investigations, federal contempt proceedings, employment matters, and/or matters related to state or federal criminal charges.
Additionally, attorney Larry Nathans was recently appointed by the United States District Court in Maryland to act as the court's attorney-investigator concerning a pending federal attorney grievance matter.
Our attorneys' clients have included:
- A managing partner of a national law firm
- A member of the executive committee of a top 100 law firm
- A senior Department of Justice attorney
- A former Assistant United States Attorney
- A former state court prosecutor
- A securities lawyer
- A real estate attorney
- An immigration attorney
- A plaintiff's lawyer
- A member of the Maryland House of Delegates
- An experienced civil defense attorney
- A trusts and estates attorney
- Prominent Baltimore and Washington, D.C. private criminal defense attorneys
- A public defender
A Significant History of Successful Case Results
While past successes do not predict future outcomes, Mr. Nathans and Mr. Ripke have either persuaded the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission to decline to bring forth attorney misconduct charges or have been successful in every Peer Review hearing handled by our firm.
Examples of attorney misconduct include allegations of:
- Unauthorized practice of law
- Failure to file tax returns
- Internet sex conversations with juveniles
- Internet harassment
- Disclosing client secrets and misleading a judge
- Failure to properly and diligently represent clients
- Possession of child pornography
- Failure to adequately communicate with clients
- Excessive fees
- Disclosing information learned as a government attorney after having left government services
- Mishandling trust funds
- Improper use of escrow accounts
- Failing to respond to Bar Counsel
- Failure to diligently represent clients
Examples of Past Victories
- In one instance, the Attorney Grievance Commission declined to sanction the attorney we represented, even though the attorney had sustained a criminal conviction for the underlying conduct.
- In another case, we convinced a Peer Review Panel that our client’s illegal internet downloading was accidental and he received a warning rather than be disbarred.
- Mr. Nathans and Mr. Ripke have also successfully represented law school graduates during Maryland character committee screenings in separate cases in which the graduate had been involved in disorderly conduct, trespassing, and not being candid about their prior criminal record during law school application process.
- Examples of other successes in prior years include the successful representation of an attorney who, after investigation proceedings, was facing 27 attorney misconduct charges and disbarment by the Attorney Grievance Commission culminating in a finding of only one minor violation after an extensive multi-day Peer Review hearing.
Visit our case results page to learn more about our past victories.
Get Sound Legal Advice from Seasoned Counsel
We regularly represent lawyers who receive inquiries and docketed complaints against them from the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission. The way a lawyer responds to a letter from the Attorney Grievance Commission is instrumental to the ultimate resolution of the problem. A response can also create more problems than initially appear on the face of an inquiry.
A primary example of this is in the area of record-keeping. Innocent record-keeping problems can crop up in any part of a practice. Maryland's Bar Counsel wrote about these issues previously in the Maryland Bar Journal and his insights are quite valuable.
Many lawyers find that their record-keeping is not up to where it should be when a letter arrives from the Attorney Grievance Commission. If you are not entirely comfortable with the state of your record-keeping - financial or otherwise - seek the advice and support of counsel now, before an issue arises.
Attorney Trust Accounts
Many good lawyers could improve their understanding of attorney trust accounts. See, e.g., Md. Rules 16-606.1 & 16-607b. For example, Maryland Rule 16-607b mandates monthly reconciliation of trust account records, client matter records, funds held in the account, and an adjusted month-end financial institution statement balance.
If these procedures are not timely followed, even an innocent accounting error can snowball and become hard to uncover. As the Attorney Grievance Commission explains:
"The absence of timely reconciliation permits mistakes to be buried, to be dug up at great expense, often accompanied by embarrassment, loss of client confidence and with the risk of sanctions."
Things can worsen quickly in the event of an overdraft. Whenever an attorney's trust account experiences an overdraft, the overdraft is supposed to be reported by the financial institution to the Attorney Grievance Commission.
If this happens to you, you will be directed to provide an explanation and records in support. If you receive such an inquiry, it should be treated very seriously and addressed immediately. Both banks and attorneys innocently make relatively minor accounting errors all the time.
Record Keeping & Trust Accounts
When these inadvertent mistakes happen, they may be explained and resolved promptly with a well-written and properly documented response. But in the process of doing so, an attorney may need to share ledgers and other manners of record-keeping that may not have always been properly maintained and updated.
When the Attorney Grievance Commission determines some records have not always been properly maintained and updated, it could lead to an investigation about a lawyer's other required records, even if the original disputed transaction is resolved.
Call (410) 783-0272 to Speak With Practiced Legal Counsel
If you could benefit from knowledgeable legal assistance with ensuring you are compliant with professional obligations, including updating or reconciling your record-keeping, contact a Baltimore legal misconduct attorney at Nathans & Biddle LLP today. We are well-versed in all matters related to the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission.