V I R G I N I A:

BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD

IN THE MATTER OF JOHN HENRY PARTRIDGE, ESQUIRE

VSB Docket Numbers 01-053-1455
01-053-2875
01-053-3162
02-053-0692
02-053-0855
02-053-2985
02-053-3258
02-053-3582
02-053-3616
03-053-0019

O R D E R

This matter came on March 20, 2003, to be heard on the Agreed Disposition of the Virginia State Bar and the Respondent, based upon the Certification of a Fifth District­Section III Subcommittee. The Agreed Disposition was considered by a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of W. Jefferson O'Flaherty, lay member, Bruce T. Clark, Esquire, Richard J. Colten, Esquire, Peter A. Dingman, Esquire, and John A. Dezio, Esquire, presiding.
Seth M. Guggenheim, Esquire, representing the Bar, and the Respondent, John Henry Partridge, Esquire, represented by Pamela J. Bethel, Esquire, presented an endorsed Agreed Disposition, dated March 18, 2003, reflecting the terms of the Agreed Disposition. The court reporter for the proceeding was Donna T. Chandler, Chandler & Halasz, Inc., RPR, P. O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227, telephone (804) 730-1222.
Having considered the Certification and the Agreed Disposition, it is the decision of the Board that the Agreed Disposition be accepted, and the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board finds by clear and convincing evidence as follows:
1. At all times relevant hereto, John Henry Partridge, Esquire (hereafter "Respondent"), has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As to VSB Docket No. 01-053-1455:
2. On or about January 31, 1999, Merry J. Adams (hereafter "Complainant") retained the Respondent by way of a written "Agreement for Legal Services" to represent her in what the Agreement referred to as "her claims for discrimination in the Commonwealth of Virginia."
3. Pursuant to the "retainer fee" due under the Agreement, on or about February 2, 1999, the Complainant tendered a check to the Respondent in the sum of $5,000.00. The Respondent failed to deposit the check in an attorney or other trust account to the credit of the Complainant. Instead, he deposited the check in a non-trust account, thus applying the full proceeds thereof to his own or his law firm's credit. He did not thereafter account to the Complainant as to the manner in which all or any portion of her "retainer fee" had been earned.
4. On or about February 18, 1999, the Respondent filed a "Complaint" in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Excluding the signature page, the "Complaint" consisted of a single page, and that portion of the "Complaint" devoted to a statement of Complainant's claim consisted of a single sentence, which read as follows: "Plaintiff was discriminated against by Defendant on the basis of her sex and race."
5. Although the "Complaint" was drafted and filed by the Respondent at a time when he was Complainant's attorney, he did not sign it and enter his appearance in the case as her attorney of record. Instead, the Respondent presented the "Complaint" to the Court in the manner of a pro se filing. The Respondent subsequently claimed that he signed the Complainant's name to the pleading (and appended his initials next to her name) because he was "not confident in having any facts" in support of the filing.
6. At the time that he filed the aforesaid "Complaint," the Respondent did not request that service thereof be made upon the defendant in the action. The Respondent subsequently entered his appearance and on June 28, 1999, filed a document entitled "Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to Serve Her Complaint." That document, signed by the Respondent, contained as the sole averment supporting the request for an extension of time to serve the Complaint, the following sentence: "There is good cause to grant such an order as Plaintiff Adams is now represented by counsel and can serve her complaint, and any amendments thereto, in a timely and efficient manner."
7. At the time he made the foregoing averment to the federal District Court, the Respondent knew it to be false, in that "Plaintiff Adams" had at all times been represented by counsel and that Respondent had himself drafted and filed the "Complaint" and had himself made the decision that it not have been earlier served upon the defendant in the action.
8. Subsequently, the Respondent was informed by the Court that the defendant in the action was in default, and that the matter was being docketed for October 15, 1999, for presentation of Complainant's damages on an ex parte basis. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Respondent successfully moved to have the damages hearing continued to October 22, 1999.
9. In the evening before the scheduled hearing on damages, the Respondent called the Complainant and during the course of the conversation advised her that her case would have to be dismissed because she had not provided him with sufficient information on which to proceed. He stated that following dismissal of her suit, he would promptly re-file it on her behalf.
10. The Respondent thereafter presented the Court with a proposed Order, which the Court entered on October 25, 1999, dismissing Complainant's federal case, "without prejudice."
11. Notwithstanding Respondent's advice to the Complainant that her suit could be re-filed, and his representation to her that he would himself re-file it, the Respondent never re-filed the suit. Moreover, upon dismissal, the Complainant's claim was time-barred and could not, in any event, have been re-instituted and successfully prosecuted.
12. Subsequent to the dismissal of the case the Respondent told the Complainant, at first, that he had re-filed it. Following her request that she be provided with the paperwork associated with the re-filed case, the Respondent told her that he had not re-filed it, but that he had re-filed for the right to sue in the matter. Thereafter, and continuing into the year 2000, the Complainant made repeated attempts via telephone calls, faxes, and e-mails to determine the status of her case, and to request documents related to it, but the Respondent did not respond to those inquiries.

As to VSB Docket No. 01-053-2875:
13. On or about February 3, 2001, the Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" with Jong H. Ree (hereafter "Complainant"). The Respondent's legal representation of the Complainant was with respect to Complainant's "potential fraud and Virginia Consumer Protection Act Claim arising out of the December 2000 refinance of his property with Option One."
14. At the time Respondent was retained, the Complainant paid Respondent the sum of $2,000.00, which entire sum was deposited by the Respondent in the Respondent's law firm operating account, and not in an attorney trust account.
15. After the representation had commenced, the Complainant decided that he wished not to pursue the matter for which he had retained the Respondent. He asked the Respondent to make a partial refund of the $2,000.00 that had been paid, and the Respondent told the Complainant on or about February 20, 2001, that Respondent would be called and told when he could pick up his refund check from the Respondent's office.
16. After hearing nothing further from the Respondent for a period of approximately three weeks, the Complainant called the Respondent and was told by the Respondent that he would receive no refund and that he, the Complainant, owed the Respondent additional sums.
17. The Respondent thereafter sent a bill to the Complainant, seeking payment of an additional $2,020.00 for 10.1 hours of work allegedly performed on the matter. No portion of the $2,000.00 earlier paid to the Respondent was credited to the fees for services claimed to have been performed. The Respondent claimed in a letter which accompanied the bill that the $2,000.00 paid upon his retention "was for the sole purpose of retaining my availability to prosecute your case and was nonrefundable."
18. The aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" referred to the "retainer fee" of $2,000.00 as nonrefundable. The $2,000.00 "retainer fee" called for by the agreement, and paid by the Complainant, was, in reality, an advanced legal fee, which should have been placed and

maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses.
As to VSB Docket No. 01-053-3162:
19. On or about February 18, 1998, Joel B. Alperstein, M.D., (hereafter "Complainant") engaged the Respondent to pursue certain tort claims on his behalf. The Complainant and Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" presented to the Complainant by the Respondent. The Agreement, inter alia, provided that Respondent be paid on an hourly rate basis, and also provided that Complainant "provide [Respondent] with a retainer fee of $3,500.00 to secure [Respondent's] availability to represent client and as a true nonrefundable retainer."
20. At the time Respondent was retained, the Complainant paid Respondent the aforesaid sum of $3,500.00 via a credit card transaction, which entire sum was deposited by the Respondent in the Respondent's law firm operating account, and not in an attorney trust account.
21. The $3,500.00 "retainer fee" called for by the agreement, and paid by the Complainant, was, in reality, an advanced legal fee, which should have been placed and maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses. The Respondent did not account to the Complainant for the time devoted to Complainant's matters, and as to how sums paid by Complainant were earned as fees.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-0692:
22. On or about August 20, 2001, the Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" with Sung Gyun Hong (hereafter "Complainant"). The Respondent's legal representation of the Complainant was with respect to the potential suspension of the Complainant's Virginia driver's license.
23. The aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" provided that Respondent "and his investigative staff" be paid at the rate of $200.00 per hour, and it also contained the following provision:


Upon execution of this Agreement Client shall pay a fee of $1,000 to secure Attorney's availability to represent CLIENT. Client understands and agrees that the attorney's fee in regard to preliminary consultations with me, investigating the fact of my case and advising me with respect to filing a lawsuit in this matter is $1,000, and understands that this amount is separate and apart from any other fees charged by the attorney and expenses incurred in my case, and that his fee has been and shall be considered fully earned by the attorney upon the execution of this Agreement. [All errors in original.]


24. At the time Respondent was retained, the Complainant paid Respondent the sum of $1,000.00, which entire sum was deposited by the Respondent in the Respondent's law firm operating account, and not in an attorney trust account. The $1,000.00 fee called for by the agreement, and paid by the Complainant, was, in reality, an advanced legal fee, which should have been placed and maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses.
25. Beyond the initial consultation with the Complainant, the Respondent devoted only two-tenths of an hour to the Complainant's legal matter. Further consultation and handling of the Complainant's matter, which exclusively involved Virginia law, was conducted at Respondent's direction by A. Stephen Conte, an associate attorney in Respondent's office.
26. The Complainant subsequently terminated the Respondent's services, requested an accounting of time devoted to his matter, and a refund. The Respondent advised the Virginia State Bar that at the time Complainant requested an accounting of time devoted to his matter on September 12, 2001, the Respondent and his associate "were knee deep in the final preparation of a murder trial." Following the Complaint made to the Virginia State Bar, the Respondent ultimately furnished records purporting to be the time devoted Complainant's legal matter, but no refund in any sum has been given to the Complainant.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-0855:
27. On or about February 5, 2001, Mr. Kwang Ku (hereafter Complainant), a siding contractor, met with the Respondent and retained him to collect $10,400.00 from a firm which had engaged Complainant's company to install siding on two houses.
28. On the aforesaid date, the Respondent informed the Complainant that the collection matter would take approximately two months to resolve, and would cost $1,000.00.
29. The Complainant paid Respondent the sum of $1,000.00, which entire sum was deposited by the Respondent in the Respondent's law firm operating account, and not in an attorney trust account. The $1,000.00 fee should have been placed and maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses.
30. As of September 25, 2001, when the instant Complaint was filed with the Virginia State Bar, the Complainant had heard nothing at all from the Respondent since their February, 2001, meeting concerning his legal matter.
31. On October 4, 2001, Bar Counsel directed a letter of that date to Respondent, enclosing the instant Complaint, and stating, inter alia, in bold text, the following: "please review the complaint and provide a written answer, including an original and one copy of your response and all attached exhibits, within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this letter." The Respondent failed to file a written response to the Complaint with the Bar as required by the said letter, either within twenty-one (21) days, or at any time thereafter, with the exception of a letter dated February 12, 2002, from Respondent's attorney setting forth how the legal fee was handled by the Respondent.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-2985:
32. On or about November 27, 2000, Larry J. Bramlett (hereafter Complainant) retained Respondent to form a corporation, and have it classified for federal income tax purposes as a "Subchapter S" corporation. The Complainant was charged, and he paid to the Respondent, the sum of $725.00. Of that sum, $650.00 was designated by Respondent as a legal fee, and $75.00 was identified as a State Corporation Commission filing fee.

33. On or about January 4, 2001, the Complainant received a notification from the Internal Revenue Service regarding the corporation that Respondent had formed. According to the Complainant's accountant, the notification reflected that Complainant's corporation was not established as a Subchapter S corporation. The Complainant promptly telephoned the Respondent, who informed the Complainant that he, the Respondent, would take care of the matter.
34. Having heard nothing further from the Respondent, the Complainant telephoned him on January 22, 2002, which call was not returned. The Complainant confirmed the problem in writing via a letter to the Respondent dated January 22, 2001, to which there was no response by the Respondent.
35. On October 2, 2001, the Complainant sent a letter to the Respondent concerning the tax classification issue, and left at least two telephone messages for the Respondent at approximately that time. The Respondent did not respond to the letter or telephone calls.
36. On or about November 9, 2001, the Complainant visited Respondent's office and was assured by the Respondent that Respondent would correct the tax classification problem, and would fax the information directly to the Complainant's accountant.
37. The Respondent did not attend to the problem, as promised, and the Complainant scheduled an appointment to meet with the Respondent on December 12, 2001, at 11:00 a.m., which appointment the Complainant confirmed, in writing.
38. When the Complainant arrived in Respondent's office for the scheduled appointment, he was advised that the Respondent was unavailable due to a pressing matter associated with a murder case that Respondent was handling. The Complainant was informed that Respondent would call the Complainant as soon as possible, but no such call was ever made.
39. The Complainant did receive a "Memorandum" from the Respondent, dated December 12, 2001, wherein, inter alia, the Complainant was advised that Respondent had "a capital murder case set to begin on January 7th and can only provide [the Complainant with] 'lip service' at this time."
40. The Complainant retained the services of a different attorney, and determined that Respondent's legal services were inadequate in matters beyond the tax classification issue. On or about January 22, 2002, the Complainant wrote to the Respondent, recounting the problems discovered by Complainant's new counsel and requesting a refund.
41. The Respondent did not respond to Complainant's letter, nor to a follow up letter sent by to him by the Complainant.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-3258:
42. On or about March 14, 2002, Mr. Ira F. Marcus (hereafter "Complainant") met with and engaged the Respondent to prepare and send a letter to Complainant's former employer regarding the terms of Complainant's severance from employment. It was clear at the time of the meeting that time was of the essence.
43. The Complainant provided the Respondent with documents deemed essential to preparation of the letter in question on March 20, 2002.
44. On March 27, 2002, the Complainant telephoned the Respondent's office to determine the status of the letter that was to have been prepared on Complainant's behalf. The Respondent did respond to the Complainant's message by leaving his own message on Complainant's answering device, stating that the letter in question had been sent to Complainant's former employer's legal counsel.
45. On April 1, 2002, the Complainant contacted his former employer, and was told that no letter had been received from the Respondent on the Complainant's behalf.
46. On April 1, 2, and 3, 2002, the Complainant left messages for the Respondent, but none was returned. On April 4, 2002, the Complainant called the Respondent's office, and spoke to a paralegal who advised that he, the paralegal, did not have a copy of the letter in question, and that it must be on the Respondent's personal computer. The paralegal stated that he would have the Respondent call by the end of the day to resolve the matter. The Complainant requested that a copy of the letter and confirmation of delivery be sent to the Complainant as
soon as possible. The Complainant did not hear from the Respondent by the end of the day on April 4, 2002, as had been promised.
47. On April 5, 2002, the Complainant again contacted the Respondent's office. He spoke again to the Respondent's paralegal, who still had no information. The Complainant again requested a copy of the letter allegedly prepared by the Respondent, and set up an appointment to meet with the Respondent the following week, on April 9, 2002, at 10:00 a.m.
48. On April 9, 2002, the Complainant appeared in Respondent's office and met briefly with the Respondent. The Respondent claimed not to have the file with him, indicating that it was probably at Respondent's home, and that Respondent could provide the Complainant with the requested information later in the day.
49. At the April 9, 2002, meeting, the Respondent claimed to have remembered signing the letter in question, and indicated that the Respondent's assistant was looking for the postal service receipt. At this meeting, the Respondent claimed that he remembered asking the Complainant's former employer in the letter he had written for $10,000.00 more than the Respondent had earlier discussed with the Complainant. Before leaving his appointment, the Complainant again requested that he be sent a copy of the letter purportedly written on his behalf.
50. On April 10, 2002, the Complainant left two telephone messages for the Respondent, to which there was no response. On April 11, 2002, the Complainant was contacted by his former employer, with the request that it be provided with the letter that Complainant had been trying to procure from the Respondent. The Complainant called the Respondent's office twice and left messages twice on that day.
51. On April 12, 2002, the Complainant left yet another message. He was called back by the Respondent's paralegal who wanted to set up a telephone conference between the Complainant and the Respondent to resolve the matter. On April 15, 2002, a telephone conference was set up whereby the Respondent would call the Complainant on April 16, 2002, at 3:00 p.m. The Respondent placed no call to the Complainant at the scheduled time.
52. On April 17, 2002, the Complainant called the Respondent and spoke to him briefly. The Respondent claimed that he was meeting with his paralegal and that he would call the Complainant back within the hour with information. The Complainant requested his file. The Complainant did not receive a call back from the Respondent that day.
53. On April 18, 2002, the Complainant spoke with Respondent's assistant, who indicated that Respondent was in court; the Respondent did not return the Complainant's call that day.
54. The Complainant terminated the Respondent's services on April 22, 2002, and filed a Complaint with the Virginia State Bar, which was received by the Bar on April 23, 2002.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-3582:
55. On April 29, 2002, the Virginia State Bar received a Complaint filed by Mr. Daniel R. Wickins (hereafter "Complainant"). The Complaint alleged, inter alia, that the Respondent had not transmitted to the Complainant a copy of the Complainant's file, which the Complainant had theretofore requested in writing.
56. On May 3, 2002, Virginia State Bar intake counsel sent a letter to the Respondent requesting that he make specific responses to the Complaint, indicating that a resolution of the matter would avoid the necessity of the Bar's opening a formal ethics inquiry.
57. Having received no response from Respondent to the May 3, 2002, letter, intake counsel directed yet another letter to Respondent on May 14, 2002, asking for a response within five (5) days following that date, indicating that it would be "highly likely" that an active investigation file would be opened in the event Respondent did not respond to the Bar.
58. The Respondent did not respond to intake counsel's May 14, 2002, letter and an active investigation file was opened and assigned to Bar Counsel. On April 30, 2002, Bar Counsel directed a letter of that date to Respondent, enclosing the complaint, and stating, inter alia, in bold text, the following: "please review the complaint and provide a written answer, including an original and one copy of your response and all attached exhibits, within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this letter." The Respondent failed to file a written response to the Complaint with the Bar as required by the said letter, within twenty-one (21) days, although the Bar did receive a letter in response to the Complaint from Respondent's counsel in mid-July, 2002.
As to VSB Docket No. 02-053-3616:
59. On or about September 1, 2001, the Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" with Richard Krapf (hereafter "Complainant"). The Respondent's legal representation of the Complainant was with respect to the domestic relations matters.
60. The aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" provided that Respondent "and his investigative staff" be paid at the rate of $200.00 per hour, and it also contained the following provision:

Upon execution of this Agreement Client will pay Attorney a retainer fee of $4,000 dollars [sic] for the purpose of retaining Attorney's availability to prosecute his claims.


61. At the time Respondent was retained, the Complainant paid Respondent the sum of $4,000.00, which entire sum was deposited by the Respondent in the Respondent's law firm operating account, and not in an attorney trust account. The $4,000.00 "retainer fee" called for by the agreement, and paid by the Complainant, was, in reality, an advanced legal fee, which should have been placed and maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses.
62. As of April 8, 2002, the need for Respondent's services came to an end because the Complainant and his wife had reconciled, and the Respondent was so advised. Following the conclusion of legal services, the Complainant repeatedly requested that the Respondent provide him with an accounting of the time that had been devoted to his legal matter by the Respondent and an attorney employed by his office.
63. Having received no accounting for the time devoted to his case, the Complainant scheduled a meeting with the Respondent on May 31, 2002, at which meeting the Complainant twice requested provision of such accounting. The Respondent, at that meeting, promised that an accounting would be prepared and mailed to the Complainant on the following day. No such accounting was prepared and mailed. Indeed, at no time following the date of execution of the aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" did the Respondent render a statement of account or any form of accounting for the services that he and/or any member of his firm rendered on Complainant's behalf. The Respondent did not, at any time following the termination of legal services, tender a refund of unearned fees to the Complainant, despite Complainant's repeated requests therefor.
As to VSB Docket No. 03-053-0019:
64. On or about December 13, 2001, the Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" with Deirdra M. Mann (hereafter "Complainant") and Kalithe R. Wyche (Complainant's brother) respecting Respondent's legal representation of Mr. Wyche in defense of criminal drug and firearm charges.
65. The aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" provided that Respondent, other attorneys in his firm, "and his investigative staff" be paid at the rate of $250.00 per hour, and it also contained the following provision:

Upon execution of this Agreement Client shall pay a fee of $30,000 to secure Attorney's availability to represent CLIENT. Client understands and agrees that the attorney's fee in regard to preliminary consultations with me, investigating the fact of my case and advising me with respect to filing a lawsuit in this matter is $30,000, and understands that this amount is separate and apart from any other fees charged by the attorney and expenses incurred in my case, and that his fee has been and shall be considered fully earned by the attorney upon the execution of this Agreement. [All errors in original.]


66. On or about February 14, 2002, the Respondent entered into an "Agreement for Legal Services" with Complainant "to represent her in her potential felony conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine charge. . . "
67. The aforesaid "Agreement for Legal Services" provided that Respondent, other attorneys in his firm, "and his investigative staff" be paid at the rate of $250.00 per hour, and it also contained the following provision:

Upon execution of this Agreement Client shall pay a fee of $30,000 to secure Attorney's availability to represent CLIENT. Client understands and agrees that the attorney's fee in regard to preliminary consultations with me, investigating the fact of my case and advising me with respect to filing a lawsuit in this matter is $30,000, and understands that this amount is separate and apart from any other fees charged by the attorney and expenses incurred in my case, and that his fee has been and shall be considered fully earned by the attorney upon the execution of this Agreement. [All errors in original.]


68. Although the Respondent did not collect the $30,000.00 fee called for by each of the two agreements referred to above, the "earned . . . upon execution of this Agreement" provisions were ethically impermissible. Such fees, had they been paid by the Complainant and/or her brother, would in reality have been advanced legal fees, to have been deposited and maintained in an attorney trust account and drawn against by the Respondent only after having been earned by him and/or to defray the Complainant's legal costs and expenses.
69. On July 16, 2002, Bar Counsel directed a letter of that date to Respondent, enclosing a Complaint filed by the Complainant in this matter, and stating, inter alia, in bold text, the following: "please review the complaint and provide a written answer, including an original and one copy of your response and all attached exhibits, within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this letter." The Respondent failed to file a written response to the Complaint with the Bar as required by the said letter, either within twenty-one (21) days, or at any time thereafter.
The Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that such conduct on the part of John Henry Partridge, Esquire, constitutes a violation of the following Disciplinary Rules of the revised Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Professional Conduct:

DR 1-102. Misconduct.

(A) A lawyer shall not:


(4) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation which reflects adversely on a lawyer's fitness to practice law.

DR 2-105. Fees.

(A) A lawyer's fees shall be reasonable and adequately explained to the client.

(B) The basis or rate of a lawyer's fee shall be furnished on request of the lawyer's client.

DR 2-108. Terminating Representation.

(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.

(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.

(2) Fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but he may withdraw as permitted under DR 2-108, DR 5-102, and DR 5-105.

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

DR 7-102. Representing a Client Within the Bounds of the Law.

(A) In his representation of a client, a lawyer shall not:

(5) Knowingly make a false statement of law or fact.

DR 7-105. Trial Conduct.

(B) In presenting a matter to a tribunal, a lawyer shall disclose:

(1) That he appears in a representative capacity.

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.

RULE 1.3 Diligence

(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.

(c) A lawyer shall not intentionally prejudice or damage a client during the course of the professional relationship, except as required or permitted under Rule 1.6 and Rule 3.3.

RULE 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

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

RULE 1.5 Fees

(a) A lawyer's fee shall be reasonable. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;

(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;

(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

(b) The lawyer's fee shall be adequately explained to the client. When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the amount, basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.

RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property

(a) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm on behalf of a client, other than reimbursement of advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable escrow accounts maintained at a financial institution in the state in which the law office is situated 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; or

(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 it is 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) When in the course of representation a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until there is an accounting and severance of their interests. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved.

(c) 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 the client regarding them; and

(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.

RULE 1.16 Declining Or Terminating Representation

(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, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).

RULE 4.1 Truthfulness In Statements To Others

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

(a) Make a false statement of fact or law[.]

RULE 8.1 Bar Admission And Disciplinary Matters

An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission application, in connection with any certification required to be filed as a condition of maintaining or renewing a license to practice law, in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not:

(c) fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6[.]

RULE 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(c) engage in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation[.]

Upon consideration whereof, it is ORDERED that:
1. Subject to the provisions of Paragraph 7 set forth below, the Respondent shall receive a thirty (30) month suspension of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, to commence on May 1, 2003, as representing an appropriate sanction if this matter were to be heard. The Respondent shall accept no new clients between March 20, 2003, and the effective date of his suspension, inclusive.
2. Respondent shall pay by certified, cashier's, or treasurer's check, made payable to the order of Sung G. Hong, the principal sum of $720.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 9.0% per annum, from September 25, 2001, until paid. The payment that is due hereunder, inclusive of principal and all interest, shall be made by delivery of a check, as aforesaid, to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3133 no later than July 1, 2003.
3. Respondent shall pay by certified, cashier's, or treasurer's check, made payable to the order of SBS Siding Company, Inc., the principal sum of $1,000.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 9.0% per annum, from February 5, 2001, until paid. The payment that is due hereunder, inclusive of principal and all interest, shall be made by delivery of a check, as aforesaid, to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3133 no later than July 1, 2003.
4. Respondent shall pay by certified, cashier's, or treasurer's check, made payable to the order of Larry J. Bramlett, the principal sum of $375.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 9.0% per annum, from February 1, 2002, until paid. The payment that is due hereunder, inclusive of principal and all interest, shall be made by delivery of a check, as aforesaid, to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3133 no later than July 1, 2003.
5. Respondent shall pay by certified, cashier's, or treasurer's check, made payable to the order of Richard A. Krapf, the principal sum of $3,500.00, with interest thereon at the rate of 9.0% per annum, from April 8, 2002, until paid. The payment that is due hereunder, inclusive of principal and all interest, shall be made by delivery of a check, as aforesaid, to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel, 100 North Pitt Street, Suite 310, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3133 no later than July 1, 2003.
6. Subject to the provisions appearing below, should the Respondent resume the private practice of law as a Virginia-licensed attorney following the term of his license suspension provided for herein, he shall thereupon promptly engage the services of law office management consultant Janean S. Johnston, 250 South Reynolds Street, #710, Alexandria, Virginia 22304-4421, (703) 567-0088, to review and make written recommendations concerning Respondent's law practice policies, methods, systems, and procedures. Respondent shall institute and thereafter follow with consistency any and all recommendations made to him by Ms. Johnston following her evaluation of the Respondent's practice. Respondent shall grant Ms. Johnston access to his law practice from time to time, at her request, for purposes of ensuring that Respondent has instituted and is complying with Ms. Johnston's recommendations. The Virginia State Bar shall have access (by way of telephone conferences and/or written reports) to Ms. Johnston's findings and recommendations, as well as her assessment of Respondent's level of compliance with her recommendations. Respondent shall be obligated to pay when due Ms. Johnston's fees and costs for her services (including provision to the Bar of information concerning this matter) in a maximum aggregate amount of $5,000.00. Respondent will have discharged his obligations respecting the terms contained in this Paragraph 6 if he has fulfilled and remained in compliance with all of the terms contained herein for a period of two (2) years following the date of his engagement of Ms. Johnston's services. The foregoing provisions of this Paragraph 6 shall apply if, and only if, the Respondent resumes the private practice of law as a Virginia-licensed attorney within three (3) years following the date of eligibility for reinstatement of his license at the conclusion of the suspension period provided for herein. Furthermore, the provisions of this Paragraph 6 shall not apply during any portion of the three (3) year period following the date of eligibility for reinstatement of his license while Respondent is engaged in the private practice of law as a bona fide attorney employee of a law firm or other business entity in which Respondent has no interest whatsoever as owner, shareholder, director, officer, partner, member, or manager
7. If the Respondent fails to comply with any of the terms set forth in the preceding Paragraphs 2 through 6, inclusive, in the manner and at the time compliance with any such term is required, then, and in such event, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board shall, as an
alternative disposition to the license suspension otherwise provided for herein, REVOKE the Respondent's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
ORDERED that:


A. Pursuant to the provisions of Part Six, § IV, ¶ 13(M) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Respondent shall give notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, of this suspension to all clients for whom he is handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and the presiding judges in pending litigation and that he shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters that are in his care in conformity with the wishes of his clients. The notice shall be given within fourteen (14) days of the effective date of his suspension and arrangements shall be made within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of the suspension. Respondent shall also furnish proof to the Bar within sixty (60) days of the effective date of his suspension that such notices have been timely given and that such arrangements for the dispositions of matters have been made. Issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and the arrangements required herein shall be determined by the Disciplinary Board, which may impose a sanction of revocation or additional suspension for failure to comply with the requirements of this Order. Respondent shall furnish true copies of all of the notice letters sent to all persons notified of the suspension, with the original return receipts for said notice letters, to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System, on or before the sixtieth (60th) day following the effective date of his suspension; and
B. Pursuant to Part Six, § IV, ¶ 13(B)(8)(c) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs against the Respondent.
It is further ORDERED that a copy teste of this Order shall be mailed by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to the Respondent, at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and by first class, regular mail, to Pamela J. Bethel, Esquire, Respondent's counsel, and to Seth M. Guggenheim, Assistant Bar Counsel.
ENTERED this day of March, 2003.

_______________________________
John A. Dezio, Chair
Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board