The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) in Boston has suspended an attorney from practicing law, following an investigation by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”). In the matter of Lisa Beth Wilkins Baker, an attorney neglected her duties as a guardian ad litem in two client matters, and failed to cooperate with counsel for the BBO during disciplinary proceedings.
In the first case, the Massachusetts Juvenile Court appointed the attorney as guardian ad litem for a minor, for the purposes of working with the child’s school to create an individualized education plan. However, the attorney failed to attend several meetings with the school’s administrator, resulting in the minor not having a valid education plan in place for almost 2 years.
In the second case, the attorney was appointed to hold funds in a trust for the benefit of a minor, until he turned 18. However, she failed to deposit the funds into an interest bearing trust account, and did not maintain proper records. She also ignored requests for an accounting by the minor and her lawyer.
The attorney subsequently closed her law practice, while still representing both clients. However, she failed to notify either client, the Juvenile Court, or the school administrator, and failed to promptly deliver the funds owed to the second minor upon attaining the age of 18.
Subsequently, the BBO began a disciplinary action against the attorney, and subpoenaed information pertaining to the attorney’s representation of the two minors. She failed to respond or produce any documents, resulting in an administrative suspension from practicing law.
The SJC scheduled a hearing on the disciplinary matter, which the attorney failed to attend. The Court held that the attorney had violated multiple Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, including: (1) Rules 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, by failing to carry out her obligations as a guardian ad litem, (2) Rules 1.15, and 1.4, by failing to properly handle client funds, and (3) Rules 3.4, 8.1, and 8.4, by failing to provide the BBO’s counsel with information during the course of its investigation. The Court then issued an order suspending the attorney for one year, and one day.
Decision: In re Lisa Beth Wilkins Baker