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Court of Appeals disbars former Va. bar president

A former president of the Virginia Bar Association has been ordered disbarred in Maryland.

Glenn Charles Lewis, formerly of The Lewis Law Firm in Washington, D.C., was disbarred in Virginia last May. However, his disbarment in Maryland is based on a separate case in Montgomery County.

The Maryland Court of Appeals sanctioned Lewis for failing to communicate with his client, not attending scheduled settlement conferences, mismanaging client funds, charging an unreasonable fee and refusing to withdraw his representation.

“This behavior led to his client having to incur additional fees to retain new counsel, as well as much personal consternation,” Judge Sally D. Adkins in the opinion.

Once a well-known divorce lawyer with offices in Washington, D.C., and in Fairfax, Va., Lewis was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 2000 and the Virginia Bar in 1977. He boasted to the Washington Post in 2010 that he was the most expensive attorney in the area, charging $850 an hour.

Glenn M. Grossman, bar counsel for the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, declined to comment on the case on Friday. Several telephone numbers for Lewis had been disconnected.

Former client Kenneth Slosser retained Lewis, who is in his 60s, in January 2011 to pursue a divorce action in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Slosser paid Lewis a $60,000 retainer.

On Sept. 24, 2011, with less than two months before trial, Lewis failed to appear on the second day of mediation. However, another attorney at the firm appeared in his place.

The mediation was successful, and the opposing attorney sent Lewis a draft of the settlement agreement. Lewis did not contact his client until a week after receiving the draft.

Slosser asked Lewis to edit the draft, but Lewis never sent an edited version to Slosser or opposing counsel. When Slosser attempted to contact Lewis, he did not answer and his voicemail was full.

Lewis did not contact Slosser at all between Oct. 31, 2011 and his trial date, Nov. 14, 2011.

Slosser retained new counsel, who asked Lewis to withdraw as Slosser’s attorney; however, Lewis did not respond.

Lewis emailed the settlement agreement draft to Slosser on the date of his trial. Slosser’s new attorney asked again that Lewis withdraw, but he did not respond or file to withdraw his appearance.

Slosser filed a complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission in January 2012.

Lewis did not appear at his scheduled hearing before the Court of Appeals and failed to offer any mitigating circumstances as to his conduct.

The Court of Appeals held that Lewis failed to act competently and diligently, failed to communicate with his client, overcharged his client, failed to deposit client funds in a trust account, declined to terminate his representation of his client, failed to respond to Bar Counsel, failed to keep records of his client’s funds and committed misconduct.

Lewis served as president of the Virginia Bar Association in 2007. His May disbarment in Virginia stemmed from two complaints, one of which included accusations similar to those made by Slosser. In the other case, an Air Force lieutenant colonel complained that Lewis took almost $12,000 in unauthorized funds from his account, according to the Washington Post story.

WHAT THE COURT HELD

Case:

Attorney Grievance Commission v. Glenn Charles Lewis, Misc. AG No. 80, September Term 2012. Argued Jan. 9, 2014. Decided Feb. 27, 2014. Opinion by Adkins, J.

Issue:

What is the proper sanction for an attorney who fails to communicate with a client, fails to deposit client funds in a trust, declined to terminate his representation of a client, overcharged a client, failed to respond to Bar Counsel and failed to keep client’s records?

Holding:

The Court of Appeals held the proper sanction is disbarment.

Counsel:

Lydia E. Lawless, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, for petitioner; no appearance for Lewis.

RecordFax 14-0227-20 (21 pages).


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