Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Lenore Anderson (f/k/a Lenore Grant)
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Docket No.: BAR-01-04
Issued by: Single Justice, Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Date: November 12, 2002
Respondent: Lenore Anderson (f/k/a Lenore Grant)
Bar Number: 003071
Disposition/Conduct: Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney; Misconduct involving Illegal Conduct, Deceit and Misrepresentation; Excessive Fees; Withdrawal from Employment; Standards of Care and Judgment; Neglect; Preserving Identity of Funds and Property
Order of Disbarment
This matter is before the Court pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.2(b)(1) by an information filed by the Board of Overseers of the Bar against the Defendant Lenore Anderson (f/k/a Lenore Grant). Ms. Anderson (f/k/a Grant) has been served with a copy of the information and summons at her current residence in Rochester, New York. She failed to file an answer or any responsive pleadings to it or to the Board's Motion for Default of October 21, 2002. She is therefore hereby defaulted.
Ms. Anderson (f/k/a Grant) is a former Maine attorney who practiced law in Maine until approximately July 2001, and was subject to the Maine Bar Rules. The Board's information charges, and the Court hereby finds:
- In the Fall of 2000 and into the Spring and Summer of 2001, Anderson failed to follow through on her attorney obligations to many clients concerning their respective real estate transactions. In some cases, she would close the sale, but fail to record the deed. She collected many premiums from clients for title insurance for both buyers and lenders, deposited the funds in her client trust account, wrote out checks for the premiums, but failed to forward the premium amounts. As a result, many of the owners and lenders were unknowingly without title insurance they had purchased, and Anderson received and kept more money than she was entitled to which she then purportedly placed in her client trust account.
- At some point in 2001, Anderson made arrangements with an attorney to lease her law office building in Blue Hill to him from which he would operate a title insurance company. Anderson stayed on as an employee of that title company for a time, but in approximately July 2001 she left for Rochester, New York and left no forwarding address. At the time of her departure, Anderson left many clients' work unfinished and provided no notice to those clients that she had closed her office or that she had left Maine.
- As a result of information received by the office of the Board's Bar Counsel as to the unfinished status and often missing client files, upon the Board's motion, the Court issued an Order for Appointment of Counsel on January 18, 2002 under M. Bar R. 7.3(f). Pursuant to that Order, Attorney Ellen Best was so appointed and therefore visited. Anderson's former office and undertook the very time-consuming task of trying to restore the chaotic state of Anderson's former clients' files and real estate matters. Best's Interim Report of May 15, 2002 was submitted to the Court on that date. As a result of the very arduous work and services of Best, many of Anderson's former clients were notified of her misappropriation of their funds, and of the existence of the grievance complaint process of the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
- The Board initially received at least eight (8) grievance complaints from former clients claiming that Anderson had misappropriated their funds. Although notified by the Board of those complaint matters, Anderson failed to file any responses to any of them.
- Effective October 25, 2001, Anderson received a non-disciplinary summary suspension under M. Bar R 6(b) and 10(c) for failure to register with the Board or pay the annual fee as required under the Maine Bar Rules. That suspension remains in effect at present.
- In separate but related proceedings before the Fee Arbitration Commission, Anderson was ordered to refund unearned fees in four (4) of those same client complaint matters, totaling $2,050, but has failed to make any refunds in violation of M. Bar R. 9(i).
- As a result, the Court finds that Anderson violated M. Bar R 2(c) (Grounds for Discipline); 3.1(a) (Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney); 3.2(f)(1)(2)(3)(4) (Other Misconduct involving illegal conduct, deceit and misrepresentation); 3.3(a) (Excessive fees) 3.5(a) (Withdrawal from Employment); 3.6(a)(2)(3) (Conduct During Representation - Standards of Care and Judgment; Neglect); 3.6(e)(2) (Preserving Identity of Funds and Property and 9(i) (Enforcement of Fee Award).
Because Ms. Anderson (f/k/a Grant) has not filed an answer or otherwise responded to the information, the Court takes the Board's allegations including those rule violations as being admitted by her.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that the Executive Clerk of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court enter the Defendant's default pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 55(a). It is further ORDERED that Lenore Anderson (f/k/a Grant) be, and she hereby is disbarred from the practice of law in the State of Maine effective the date of this order. Lenore Anderson (f/k/a Grant) shall comply with the notification and reporting requirements of M. Bar R. 7.3(i) within 30 days of this date.
For the Court
Hon. Paul L. Rudman, Associate Justice - Maine Supreme Judicial Court