Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel: A Thank You Note Offers Lesson in Life

From Washington Lawyer, December 2014

By Gene Shipp

barcounselRecently, I received a thank you note from an intern. The intern had spent the past year working for our office while he decided if going to law school was in his future, then applying and being accepted to a local law school. As he left our employ for his 1L year, he left a note on my desk. It had been my impression that Daniel was diligent, observed everything, and was very polite (hence the thank you note). I had no idea of the ethical education that he had received working in our office. When I read the note, I was overwhelmed by the insight of this young man. I reflected that if I could convey this same wisdom to all 100,000 members of the D.C. Bar, we would consider the educating component of our job a success. Then it occurred to me: publish the thank you note.

So here are the reflections of an intern entering law school after a year at the Office of Bar Counsel (OBC):

Dear Gene,

I wanted to say “Thank You” one last time for allowing me to work with you and all the wonderful people here at OBC. It has been such a great experience and I feel as though I have learned so many valuable lessons here.

Going through historical files has provided me with some invaluable insight on why attorneys get into trouble, and more importantly, how to treat clients, judges, and opposing counsel with proper deference and attention so as to avoid trouble in the first place. I have also learned that even though frustrations and disappointments often happen in one’s career as an attorney, it is always important to remember that there is no price that can buy integrity and no case is worth sacrificing one’s moral values. I can’t thank you enough for allowing me this opportunity, and I wish you and all the staff the very best.

Sincerely,
Daniel

Often when we write this column, we cite rules, we deal in differentiating conduct, and we explain nuances. It seems to me that ethics always comes back to the core values and the human condition, which are so wonderfully set out in this simple thank you note. We have made this a very short column to give the reader a chance to re-read the thank you note because it says it all, g.

Gene Shipp serves as bar counsel for the District of Columbia.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
Original Matters
In re Adrian Cronauer. Bar No. 427503. September 29, 2014. The Board on Professional Responsibility recommends that the D.C. Court of Appeals disbar Cronauer by consent.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Original Matters
In re Sharon Styles Anderson. Bar No. 412158. September 11, 2014. The D.C. Court of Appeals approved a petition for negotiated disposition and publicly censured Anderson. This consolidated case was based on two separate matters wherein Anderson engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in a jurisdiction where she is not admitted. Specifically, Anderson filled out a form divorce petition for one client, and represented another client in a civil protection matter and a subsequent criminal proceeding in the state of Maryland. In neither instance did respondent disclose to her clients that she did not have a Maryland license, nor did she file a motion for admission pro hac vice. Rule 5.5(a) and pursuant to Rule 8.5(b)(1) violated Maryland Rules 5.5(a), 5.5(b), and 5.5(c).

In re David A. Downes. Bar No. 416967. September 25, 2014. The D.C. Court of Appeals disbarred Downes by consent.

Reciprocal Matters
In re Barry J. Nace. Bar No. 130724. September 4, 2014. In a reciprocal matter from West Virginia, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and suspended Nace for 120 days, nunc pro tunc to February 6, 2014. While representing a client in a medical malpractice matter, Nace accepted appointment to also represent the interests of the client’s bankruptcy trustee. Nace thereafter failed to notify the bankruptcy trustee that some of the medical malpractice claims had settled or that the remaining claims had resulted in a jury verdict in his client’s favor, and then engaged in dishonesty by making false statements in an effort to conceal these failures. Nace violated West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (a) and (b) (communication with client), 1.15 (b) (safekeeping property), 8.4 (c) (dishonesty), and 8.4 (d) (conduct prejudicial to administration of justice).

In re David A. Vesel. Bar No. 423456. September 25, 2014. In a reciprocal matter from North Carolina, the D.C. Court of Appeals imposed identical reciprocal discipline and disbarred Vesel effective March 7, 2014. Vesel was found to have embezzled thousands of dollars in entrusted client funds.

Interim Suspensions Issued by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
In re Scott B. Blumenfeld. Bar No. 501870. September 29, 2014. Blumenfeld was suspended on an interim basis based upon discipline imposed in Maryland.

In re Laura E. Jordan. Bar No. 416707. September 24, 2014. Jordan was suspended on an interim basis based upon discipline imposed in Maryland.

In re Evan Scott Kagan. Bar No. 994528. September 24, 2014. Kagan was suspended on an interim basis based upon discipline imposed in Florida.

In re Randy McRae. Bar No. 430494. September 29, 2014. McRae was suspended on an interim basis based upon his conviction of a serious crime in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland.

In re Juan Lorenzo Rodriguez-Quesada. Bar No. 487484. September 26, 2014. Rodriguez-Quesada was suspended on an interim basis pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI, § 9(g), pending final action on the Board on Professional Responsibility’s July 31, 2014, recommendation of a two-year suspension with conditions.

In re Robert Wilkey. Bar No. 975432. September 24, 2014. Wilkey was suspended on an interim basis based upon discipline imposed in Pennsylvania.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by Other Jurisdictions
In accordance with D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 11(c), the D.C. Court of Appeals has ordered public notice of the following nonsuspensory and nonprobationary disciplinary sanctions imposed on D.C. attorneys by other jurisdictions. To obtain copies of these decisions, visit www.dcattorneydiscipline.org and search by individual names.

In re Timothy J. Klima. Bar No. 428098. On January 3, 2014, the Supreme Court of Iowa reprimanded Klima for assisting in drafting a will naming himself and his relatives as beneficiaries.

In re Stephen John Saunders. Bar No. 442497. On January 8, 2014, the Fourth District Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar issued Saunders a public reprimand with terms.


The Office of Bar Counsel compiled the foregoing summaries of disciplinary actions. Informal Admonitions issued by Bar Counsel and Reports and Recommendations issued by the Board on Professional Responsibility are posted at www.dcattorneydiscipline.org. Most board recommendations as to discipline are not final until considered by the court. Court opinions are printed in the Atlantic Reporter and also are available online for decisions issued since August 1998. To obtain a copy of a recent slip opinion, visit
www.dccourts.gov/internet/opinionlocator.jsf.