Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 78247
Attorney Name Hollinger, Michael Keith
DBP Docket No. 19 DB 2004
Supreme Court Docket No. 1018 DD No. 3
County Berks
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin R. Frownfelter
Counsel for Respondent Richard F. Maffet, Jr.
Decision Date 2005-06-16
Effective Date 2004-07-20
Case Digest Respondent was an associate in a firm specializing in Workers Compensation defense. Respondent developed a practice of increasing his billings by recording time for activities he did not perform and significantly overstating the time he actually spent on other activities. In all 24 incidents of overbilling were documented. Respondent also wrote letters and other communications to clients making false statements about activities he had performed on 16 occasions. Respondentís firm refunded the sum of $26,730.69 to clients. Respondent offered mitigating evidence in the form of character evidence, evidence of large law school debts, and allegations of pressure to meet high billable hours targets from the firm. He also offered evidence he had been diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, but the Disciplinary Board found he had not proven he suffered from a psychiatric disorder which substantially caused the misconduct for purposes of mitigation under Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Braun. Shortly after the hearing Respondent assumed inactive status. After comparing the misconduct to recent comparable cases, the Disciplinary Board concluded that suspension for one year and one day, retroactive to the time when Respondent had gone on inactive status, was appropriate. Seven Disciplinary Board members dissented in favor of shorter suspension. The Supreme Court adopted the majorityís recommendation and suspended Respondent for one year and one day, retroactive to the date when he went on inactive status.
Rule Violation(s) 1.5(a); 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Suspension for one year and one day, retroactive to July 20, 2004.
Points of Law Falsification of billing records and false statements to clients about the status of cases warrants suspension for a period of time sufficient to require the lawyer to petition or reinstatement.
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