According to the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland (AGC), disciplinary actions taken against Maryland attorneys are down this year (Fiscal Year [FY] – July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011), despite the fact that the AGC received slightly more complaints.
According to the AGC’s annual report, the overall number of inquiries rose for the second consecutive year, from 1,597 in FY 2010 to 1,800 in FY 2011, as did the number of docketed complaints filed against Maryland attorneys – increasing from 406 in 2010 to 429 in 2011. While this may sound discouraging, the 70 disciplinary actions that were taken this year was a decrease from the 76 that were taken in 2010 (FY). That’s encouraging, right? Even more encouraging, the number of disbarments fell from 15 in FY 2010 to 11 in 2011. Especially considering that the number of active attorneys increased from 34,506 last year to 35,515 this year.
The 76 reported disciplinary actions taken in FY 2011 are broken down as follows:
- 17 attributed to competent representation, diligence, communication, neglect, and abiding by client’s decision
- 12 to misconduct (dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation)
- 10 to criminal act or conviction
- 9 to misappropriation (theft of client’s funds, estate funds, fiduciary funds or law firm funds)
- 8 to failure to maintain complete records, account to clients or others, maintain trust account, or safeguard funds
As far as complaints received go, the largest numbers are broken down amongst the following practice areas:
- Civil Litigation – 74 complaints
- Personal Injury – 61
- Family Law – 49 (a considerable decrease from 71 the prior year)
- Criminal Law – 43
- Bankruptcy – 26 (while this may seem insignificant, this figure more than doubled from the 12 in 2010)
Geographically speaking, Montgomery County once again led the state in complaints with 81, though this was a big drop from 92 reported last year. The other notable numbers, broken down by county, are as follows:
- Prince George’s County: 73 (an increase from 62 last year)
- Baltimore City: 65 (an increase from 60)
- Baltimore County: 57 (an increase from 50)
- Anne Arundel County: 34 (this more than double the amount of complaints received last year)
Counties having received no complaints are: Caroline County, Cecil County, Dorchester County, and Kent County.