Michael C. Hodes retired from the practice of law Oct. 1. It says so right on his law firm’s website, where he wrote he would become a full-time consultant on elder care and veterans’ benefits.
That Hodes faced discipline from the Court of Appeals for allegedly taking some $270,000 from a deceased client’s trust fund played no factor in his decision, Hodes said in a brief interview on Monday. Six days after Hodes announced his retirement, the Court of Appeals disbarred the longtime lawyer hours after hearing arguments in the disciplinary hearing.
“It didn’t matter if I got suspended or exonerated,” Hodes said in the interview, his first public comments since his disbarment. “No matter what the ruling, I was going to retire.”
Hodes, who recently turned 65, said he has transferred his more than 1,500 files to Ryan M. McConnell, an associate at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC in Baltimore, who formerly worked with Hodes at what was then Hodes, Pessin & Katz P.A. in Towson.
Hodes also took issue with the actions of Columbia Bank, which last week filed a complaint for confessed judgment believing he will not be able to repay the more than $300,000 he owes in unpaid loans in the wake of his disbarment.
The complaint alleges Hodes received a $250,000 loan from the bank in June 2012, which was modified to a line-of-credit note and increased to $400,000 six months later. The loan is payable on demand, and the bank demanded payment the day after his disbarment.
Hodes took out a separate, $50,000 term loan in December 2012, according to the lawsuit. The bank also declared that loan in default out of its fear of nonpayment.
Hodes said Monday he was never late on a payment and was current on his balance. He kept bank officials in the loop about the disciplinary proceedings, he added, and the two sides were in the process of renegotiating the loans.
“They knew everything about the case,” Hodes said. “The minute they learned of the disbarment, they called the loan.”
David S. Musgrave, Columbia Bank’s lawyer and a member of Gordon Feinblatt LLC in Baltimore, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Hodes described the last few weeks as “very unsettling and very trying.”
“It’s a change, but in the long run it’s a positive,” he said. “We’ll go from there.”