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Texas State Bar Suspends 12 Attorneys

Texas professional license defense attorneyThe State Bar of Texas issued a Media Advisory: State Bar of Texas disciplinary actions for October 2019 press release, linking to a public list of disciplinary actions. Twelve Texas attorneys were suspended in October. This volume of attorney suspensions represents a slight decrease from September, when 14 attorneys were suspended by State Bar of Texas.

Disciplinary Action: Suspension of Law License

Numerous reasons for which the State Bar may impose disciplinary action against a licensed attorney exist. Law license suspensions are typically accompanied by an Order to pay restitution fees and/or attorneys fees. The length of suspension varies depending on the alleged misconduct, history, defense, and other factors. The 12 October suspension lengths ranged from one-month to eight years. Suspensions may be fully probated, partially probated, or not probated and must be served in full.

Here are just a few reasons for which the State Bar of Texas handed down license suspensions in October:

  • Roland M. Fergurson Jr. received a four-year partially probated suspension, with the first two years actively suspended and the remainder probated. He was ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution and $2,145.50 in attorneys’ fees.
    • An evidentiary panel of the District 1 Grievance Committee found that Fergurson violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct:
      • Rule 1.01(b)(1): In representing a client, a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer.
        • Fergurson neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by failing to file a petition in a family law matter.
      • Rule 1.03(a): A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
        • Fergurson failed to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of their family law matter, and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from his clients.
      • Rule 1.14(a): A lawyer shall hold funds and other property belonging in whole or in part to clients or third persons that are in a lawyer's possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer's own property.
        • Fergurson failed to hold funds belonging to his clients separate from his own property, and failed to keep said funds in a separate trust account.
      • Rule 1.15(d): Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payments of fee that has not been earned.
        • Upon termination of representation, Fergurson failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned.

 

  • Laura Gayle Nelson accepted a one-month active suspension. She was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution and $200 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.
    • The 274th Judicial District Court of Comal County found that Nelson committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rules, including:
      • Rule 8.04(a)(8) by failing to respond to a grievance in a timely manner.
      • Rule 1.01(b)(1) by neglecting a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer.
      • Rule 1.03(a) by failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
      • Rule 1.03(b) by failing to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions.
      • Rule 1.14(a) by failing to hold funds and other property belonging in whole or part to clients or third persons in a lawyer’s possession separate from the lawyer’s own property.
      • Rule 1.14(b) by failing, upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest, to promptly notify the client or third person and render a full accounting upon request.
      • Rule 1.15(d) by failing, upon termination of representation, to reasonably protect a client’s interests.

The above disciplinary actions were reported in the October edition of the Texas Bar Journal and can be read here.

The above disciplinary actions were reported in the October edition of the Texas Bar Journal and can be read here.

Failure to Timely Respond to a Grievance

One of the more prevalent reasons the State Bar of Texas lists as cause for license suspension is violation of Texas Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 8.04(a)(8): A lawyer shall not, "fail to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel or a district grievance committee a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, unless he or she in good faith timely asserts a privilege or other legal ground for failure to do so[.]"

Of the 12 attorneys suspended in October, the Texas State Bar determined 5 of them violated Rule 8.04(a)(8). As a licensed attorney you have a duty to timely respond to any grievance filed against your license to practice law.

Responding to a Grievance Filed with the State Bar of Texas

We are experienced Legal Malpractice Defense Attorneys. The results-driven lawyers at BERTOLINO LLP are well-versed in successfully dealing with formal complaints against Texas attorneys.

Our firm is prepared to defend your law license against claims of legal malpractice, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, breach of fiduciary duty, lack of due diligence, abuse of process, statute of limitations complaints or missed deadlines, conflicts of interest, ineffective assistance of counsel, and any other allegations of misconduct.

We are proud to be the lawyer's lawyer. The fact that so many lawyers have trusted us to handle formal complaints with the State Bar of Texas or the Board of Law Examiners speaks volumes. We know that fellow-attorneys expect the highest standards of professionalism and care.

If you are facing a formal complaint against your law license, we understand how much is at stake. We invite you to contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and meet with us for a case evaluation.

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Attorney Tony R. Bertolino is the Managing Partner with Bertolino LLP. Our law firm has been able to help people across the state of Texas. If you need an experienced lawyer to represent you, contact Bertolino LLP today.

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