Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Md. Lawyers' R. Prof. Conduct 5.5, in relevant part, reads: A lawyer shall not assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.
Respondent attorney, Morgan Joseph Hallmon, entered into an agreement with Eric Cloud, a District of Columbia attorney, under which respondent would represent the clients of the DC attorney who required counsel admitted in Maryland. The DC attorney employed his wife, a law school graduate who was not admitted to practice in any jurisdiction, as his office manager. One of the DC attorney's clients was a Maryland church. The church sought a parking variance. It was the respondent who represented the church at the hearing, and was accompanied by the DC attorney's wife. The hearing was held before Richard A. Romine, a Zoning Hearing Examiner. He filed a complaint with Bar Counsel raising the issue of unauthorized practice of law by the DC attorney’s wife in connection with the Church's special exception proceedings. Respondent was found to have assisted an unlicensed person in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Md. Lawyers' R. Prof. Conduct 5.5(b). Investigation of that complaint led to further charges and findings of violations.
Was there an unauthorized practice of law?
The court found respondent to have assisted an unlicensed person in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Md. Lawyers' R. Prof. Conduct 5.5(b). The court held that a lawyer could not assist a person who was not a member of the bar in the performance of any activity that constituted the unauthorized practice of law. Also, the hearing record demonstrated a clear and convincing evidence an abdication of supervision by respondent and that his lay legal assistant was unauthorizedly practicing law. The court then suspended respondent from the practice of law for 90 days. Further, the court ordered respondent to provide Bar Counsel with the names and addresses of his current clients and to identify client matters pending in court. Additionally, to provide a copy of a letter mailed to each client, and to counsel for any adverse party or to any unrepresented adverse party, notifying them of this suspension. The court also imposed conditions for reinstatement.