VIRGINIA:



BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD



IN THE MATTER OF

PAUL CORNELIUS BLAND



VSB Docket Nos.: 99-031-0907

99-031-0921

99-031-1708

00-031-2092

00-031-3456



ORDER

This matter came on April 23, 2002, to be heard on the Agreed Disposition of the Virginia State Bar and the Respondent, based upon the Certification of the Third District, Section One Subcommittee. The Agreed Disposition was considered by a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of Anthony J. Trenga, Theophlise L. Twitty, Robert L. Freed, Chester J. Cahoon, Jr., and Randy I.. Bellows, presiding.

Charlotte P. Hodges, representing the Bar and Respondent, Paul C. Bland, appearing pro se, presented an endorsed Agreed Disposition reflecting the terms of the Agreed Disposition. The Board incorporated two changes which included the stipulation of facts and rule violations pertaining to VSB Docket #00-031-3456 (Anthony Thomas), as they were outlined in the Certification dated and the alternate disposition should Respondent fail to fulfill any of the terms, which were ratified by Assistant Bar Counsel and Respondent.

Having considered the Agreed Disposition, it is the decision of the board that the Agreed Disposition be accepted with the two changes incorporated herein, and the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence as follows:

1. At all times relevant hereto, the Respondent, Paul Cornelius Bland (hereinafter Bland or Respondent), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

VSB DOCKET NO. 99-031-0907 (Birchett)

2. On August 14, 1996, Complainant met with Beverly McLean Murray (hereinafter Murray) at Respondent's law office. On that day he signed a fee agreement to have Respondent's law firm represent him in a divorce. On August 19, 1996, Complainant wired $1,000 to Respondent's escrow account per instructions he was given.

3. On August 22, 1996 and September 23, 1996, Respondent received two $500 checks made payable to him from funds held in escrow for Complainant before some or all of the fee had been earned.

4. At the time Respondent withdrew the money, the only entry on the work sheet for Complainant's case was for the preparation of the Bill of Complaint on September 11, 1996.

5. Depositions were scheduled for August 25, 1997 at opposing counsel's office. Murray, who could not make the depositions, made arrangements for Bland to handle them in her absence. Bland, however, failed to show for the depositions and did not advise Complainant that he would not be attending. Thereafter, he told Complainant he knew nothing about the scheduled depositions. A notation in opposing counsel's file indicates Bland called to advise opposing counsel he might have to continue the deposition that day.

6. A short time after the aborted depositions, Murray left Respondent's law office and he became solely responsible for handling Complainant's divorce matter.

7. On several occasions, Complainant attempted to contact Respondent about his case via letter and phone. However, he was unsuccessful in reaching Respondent.

8. Respondent did not refund any money to Complainant in this matter.

The Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Paul Cornelius Bland constitutes a violation of the following Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.

(C) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.



DR 9-102. Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client.

(A) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm on behalf of a client, estate or a ward, residing in this State or from a transaction arising in this State, other than reimbursement of advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable trust accounts and, as to client funds, maintained at a financial institution in a state in which the lawyer maintains a law office, and no funds belonging to the lawyer or law firm shall be deposited therein except as follows:

(1) Funds reasonably sufficient to pay service or other charges or fees imposed by the financial institution may be deposited therein.

(2) Funds belonging in part to a client and in part presently or potentially to the lawyer or law firm must be deposited therein, and the portion belonging to the lawyer or law firm must be withdrawn promptly after they are due unless the right of the lawyer or law firm to receive it is disputed by the client, in which event the disputed portion shall not be withdrawn until the dispute is finally resolved.

(B) A lawyer shall:

(3) Maintain complete records of all funds, securities, and other properties of a client coming into the possession of the lawyer and render appropriate accounts to his client regarding them.

(4) Promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.



VSB DOCKET NO. 99-031-0921 (Moorer)

The Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Paul Cornelius Bland constitutes a violation of the following Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:

DR 5-103. Avoiding Acquisition of Interest in Litigation.

(B) While representing a client in connection with contemplated or pending litigation, a lawyer shall not advance or guarantee financial assistance to his client, except that the lawyer may advance or guarantee the expenses of litigation, including court costs, expenses of investigation, expenses of medical examination, and costs of obtaining and presenting evidence, provided the client remains ultimately liable for such expenses.



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.

(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly and completely withdrawn from representing the client.

(C) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.



VSB DOCKET NO. 99-031-1708 (Charles)


The Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Paul Cornelius Bland constitutes a violation of the following Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.

(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly and completely withdrawn from representing the client.

(C) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.



VSB DOCKET NO. 00-031-2092 (VSB/DC Bar)

The Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Paul Cornelius Bland constitutes a violation of the following Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:



DR 2-108. Terminating Representation.

(C) In any court proceeding, counsel of record shall not withdraw except by leave of court after notice to the client of the time and place of a motion for leave to withdraw. In any other matter, a lawyer shall continue representation, notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation, when ordered to do so by a tribunal.

(D) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take reasonable steps for the continued protection of a client's interests, including giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, delivering all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by applicable law.



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.

(A) A lawyer shall undertake representation only in matters in which:

(1) The lawyer can act with competence and demonstrate the specific legal knowledge, skill, efficiency, and thoroughness in preparation employed in acceptable practice by lawyers undertaking similar matters, or

(2) The lawyer has associated with another lawyer who is competent in those matters.

(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly and completely withdrawn from representing the client.

(C) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.

(D) A lawyer shall inform his client of facts pertinent to the matter and of communications from another party that may significantly affect settlement or resolution of the matter.



DR 7-101. Representing a Client Zealously.

(A) A lawyer shall not intentionally:

(1) Fail to seek the lawful objectives of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary Rules, except as provided by DR 7-101(B). A lawyer does not violate this Disciplinary Rule, however, by acceding to reasonable requests of opposing counsel which do not prejudice the rights of his client, by being punctual in fulfilling all professional commitments, by avoiding offensive tactics, or by treating with courtesy and consideration all persons involved in the legal process.

(3) Prejudice or damage his client during the course of the professional relationship, except as required under DR 4-101(D)



VSB DOCKET NO. 00-031-2092 (Thomas)

The Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of Paul Cornelius Bland constitutes a violation of the following Rules of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility:



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.

(C) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about matters in which the lawyer's services are being rendered.

(D) A lawyer shall inform his client of facts pertinent to the matter and of communications from another party that may significantly affect settlement or resolution of the matter.


Upon consideration hereof, it is ORDERED that Respondent comply with the following terms: