Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Montgomery County lawyer disbarred

The Court of Appeals has disbarred a Montgomery County lawyer who deposited two clients’ checks in his personal bank account and did not notify them when he left his Germantown practice.

Joel Desingco Lara took advance fees totaling $1,100 from two clients to handle their Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in spring 2008, according to the court’s unanimous opinion. Both clients were unable to reach Lara by summer 2008, and his office phone number had been disconnected.

Lara, who was admitted to the bar in 1995, did not respond to information requests from the Attorney Grievance Commission, nor did he appear at any hearings in his case, including oral arguments before the state’s high court.

Lara told an AGC investigator who showed up unannounced at his home in August 2009 that he did not have an active trust account when he received his clients’ payments. He offered to refund his clients’ money but never did, according to the opinion.

“This conduct warrants the gravest sanction, disbarment, for the protection of the public,” Judge Lynne A. Battaglia wrote.

The case, Attorney Grievance Commission v. Joel Descingco Lara, can be found as RecordFax No. 11-0304-21