KBA v. ZACK N. WOMACK
Order suspended respondent from practice of law for 30 days
DATE RENDERED: 11/26/2008
Clients retained attorney in a foreclosure proceeding. Later, client testified that they did not discuss the attorney’s fee, but that he had assumed it would be at the hourly rate he had charged on previous occasions. The attorney claimed that the client asked him to do the work on a contingency basis, but admitted that there was no written fee agreement. After the Master Commissioner’s sale, the attorney deposited the $33,946.77 proceeds check—which did not name the attorney as a payee—into his client escrow account. The attorney then mailed a check to the clients representing the proceeds less a 20% contingency fee ($6,789.35). After the clients’ request for an accounting and a bill for a fee at the customary hourly rate was refused, they filed a bar complaint. The attorney was found guilty of charging a contingency fee without a prior written agreement, failing to refund an unearned portion of fees to a client, and making a false statement of fact to the Office of Bar Counsel regarding the amount of work performed on the clients’ behalf. The Court suspended the attorney from the practice of law for 30 days and ordered him to pay $4,089 in restitution to the client.
From SC November