The ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct™ is a trusted resource that helps attorneys understand cases and decisions that directly impacts their work, practice ethically, and...
By Samson Habte
A lawyer who submitted false time entries because he was concerned “that his billable hours were not commensurate with his leadership position” in a New Orleans firm was suspended from practice for one year by the Louisiana Supreme Court Sept. 22 ( In re Wallace , 2017 BL 336988, La., No. 2017-B-0525, 9/22/17 ).
The lawyer, Kenneth Todd Wallace, didn’t charge any clients for the falsely billed time, which added up to more than 1,000 hours over a four-year period. His actions, the court said, were instead fueled by a desire to “look better on paper” at his former firm, Liskow & Lewis APLC, after a series of promotions that included his election to the firm’s board of directors.
The fact that no clients were harmed, and “significant” mitigating factors—including Wallace’s resignation from the firm and voluntary renunciation of an $85,000 bonus—prompted the court to impose a 30-month suspension from practice with all but 12 months of that suspension deferred.
The court said Wallace began to submit false time entries after he joined the firm’s board of directors and “saw firsthand” the “extraordinary billable hours and business dollars generated by key leaders of the firm.”
“When his practice began to decline, respondent gave in to his own internal pressures and began to submit false time on a dismissed contingency fee matter, and eventually other matters, in an effort to make himself look better on paper each month,” the per curiam opinion said.
Several members of Liskow & Lewis testified that Wallace would have met the firm’s billing targets without the inflated hours. According to the court, those colleagues “did not believe a desire for bonus money was what drove respondent to submit false billable hours.”
The court found that Wallace violated Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c), which prohibits dishonesty.
Dane S. Ciolino, New Orleans, represented Wallace. The ODC was represented by Chief Disciplinary Counsel Charles B. Plattsmier, Baton Rouge, La.
To contact the reporter on this story: Samson Habte in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: S. Ethan Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full text at http://src.bna.com/sPO.
Copyright © 2017 American Bar Association and The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)