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For the second time, D.C. area attorney Garland Stillwell is suspended from practicing in D.C. and Maryland for at least 60 days, reports the Blog of Legal Times. Stillwell can petition to be reinstated after that time period.
Stillwell was disciplined for mishandling his client's matters and funds.
In case you missed last week's CLE on disciplinary no-no's, Garland Stillwell's suspension will inspire you to avoid being another tale of bad lawyering.
Mishandling Client Matters
Garland Stillwell's suspension for mishandling his client's case and money was handed down by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Based on the suspension in Maryland, the D.C. Court of Appeals also temporarily halted his right to practice in D.C.
Stillwell's first problem was that failed to do what was promised in his client's legal services contract. His client hired him to establish a real estate company as a single member, foreign LLC and assist in transferring assets and liabilities. One of Stillwell's duties was to negotiate with creditors regarding the transfer of a New York LLC interest to his client. However, the deadline wasn't met and Stillwell couldn't produce any notes or records that he made efforts to reach the creditors, despite the clients multiple attempts to contact him.
As a result of poor communications with his client and lack of effort to honor his part of the client contract, he was dinged by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission.
Trust (Account) Me, I'm a Lawyer
Even if money is tight, licensed attorneys should know that when clients give you money in anticipation of future legal services, you stick it right into a client's trust account, or get their informed consent to do otherwise.
Stillwell's client gave him a check for $2,000 when they signed a services agreement in 2010, but he didn't deposit it into a client trust account. However, when his client asked to terminate the relationship and get her money back, he claimed that money was earned as a partial fee payment because the attorney-client relationship began in 2009.
In response to Stillwell's partial fee payment claim, the Maryland Court of Appeals gave him the side eye and found that merely chatting with an attorney at a real estate seminar about your business interests isn't the beginning of beautiful attorney-client relationship.
In 2009, Garland Stillwell was suspended for misrepresenting his title at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
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