The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) has suspended an attorney from practicing law for 6 months, following a determination that he had been practicing without a license, and falsely represented himself as a licensed attorney. In the matter of Peter Larkowich, a Massachusetts attorney was administratively suspended for failing to pay his dues to the Massachusetts bar. He did not apply to be reinstated, nor did he notify his clients of his suspension, or withdraw from his current cases.
Additionally, following his suspension, the attorney was hired by a New Hampshire law firm, despite having never been licensed to practice law in New Hampshire. The firm assigned the attorney to a case working for an out of state client, who needed assistance restructuring a loan and modifying a mortgage agreement. The attorney and the firm represented to the client that he was a licensed Massachusetts attorney. The attorney also sent multiple letters on his client’s behalf, in which he referred to himself as an “attorney” or “esquire”.
Following an investigation, the New Hampshire Professional Conduct Committee publicly reprimanded the attorney for practicing law without a license. Under Massachusetts law, S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 16, the attorney was obligated to notify Massachusetts bar counsel and the Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”) of any disciplinary actions taken by another jurisdiction, however he failed to do so.
The attorney’s client subsequently filed a complaint with Massachusetts bar counsel, who engaged their own investigation. Bar counsel attempted to contact the attorney multiple times, but he refused to cooperate with their investigation. Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline with the BBO, recommending that the attorney be suspended for 6 months, and only reinstated after an administrative hearing. The attorney failed to respond to the petition and a default finding was entered.
The BBO voted to approve the bar counsel’s recommendation, and submitted the stipulations to the SJC. The SJC concurred, and ordered that the attorney be suspended for 6 months, effective as of the date of his compliance.
Decision: In re Peter Larkowich