You Can’t Judge Attorneys By Their Reputations

So you’ve hired the most expensive, well-respected lawyer in the city to handle the most important dispute of your life.  Think that guarantees you will be well represented? Think again.

On May 21, 2013, The Washington Post reported that the Virginia Bar disbarred Glenn Lewis, one of the most well-respected, and most expensive (at $850/hour), family law attorneys in the area.  Mr. Lewis, who hosted a cable television show, had been the president of the Virginia Bar Association (the non-licensing, voluntary bar association) and received a lifetime achievement award from the Virginia State Bar’s family law section.  As reported by The Post’s Tom Jackman, Mr. Lewis was disbarred for “dishonesty, mismanaging clients’ funds and failing to fulfill his legal obligations.”

According to The Post, bar complaints started piling up against Mr. Lewis after reporting on his 2009 lawsuit seeking $500,000 in fees against a former client, who was also a lawyer.  Mr. Lewis settled the case for over $100,000 after more than one expert was to testify that his billing had been excessive.  The bar complaints included Mr. Lewis (1) not showing up for a hearing and losing the client’s case and (2) charging a client’s credit card without authorization.  In all, the bar found Mr. Lewis had committed 20 violations of the Virginia ethics rules based on the two bar complaints – violations “concerning reasonable fees, communications with clients, diligence, safekeeping of funds, cooperation with bar investigations, wrongful acts and dishonesty or fraud.”

Unfortunately, in the current legal climate, there is no safe haven where the honest and competent lawyers can be easily identified.  And now, it appears that sky-high fees, stellar reputations, and those self-proclaimed “top attorneys” lists (on which Mr. Lewis routinely appeared) is no guarantee.  The need for legal practices to undergo meaningful reform is stronger than ever.  The dialogue must begin.

You’ve got options.  The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field.  Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.

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Center for Legal Practice Reform
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