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Supreme Court disbars Indianapolis attorney

September 19, 2008

An Indianapolis lawyer who engaged in repeated and serious acts of attorney misconduct involving multiple clients has been disbarred.

In a five-page disciplinary order today In the Matter of Kimberly O. Powell, No. 49S00-0803-DI-127, the Indiana Supreme Court disbarred Kimberly O. Powell who had 16 misconduct counts lodged against her for conduct between 2003 to 2007.

The high court suspended her in March for not cooperating with the Disciplinary Commission's investigation, which involved the following misconduct charges: failing to take action in cases; failing to keep clients informed about the status of their cases; failing to respond to clients' requests for information; accepting a settlement without the client's approval; giving clients erroneous legal advice; failing to appear at hearings; missing deadlines; failing to properly handle, use, account for, and/or refund money paid to her by clients; charging unreasonable fees; failing to reduce contingent fee agreements to writing; misrepresenting the extent of her professional experience; and making false statements to the commission during its investigation.

In describing some of the misconduct, the court noted that Powell falsely told a client she had substantial experience with federal drug possession cases, charged him a $5,000 initial fee, refused to refund a $2,000 partial payment after being discharged, and attempted to charge an additional $3,100 despite having done no substantial work on the case.

Other examples cited by the court included an unemployment compensation matter and child support claims, and an Illinois murder case where she never appeared in court in that state and declined to refund a $10,000 "engagement fee" paid by the client's parents before she advised them their son should surrender to police without consulting the client.

In addition to the 16 counts of violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rules, she also violated the Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule regarding clients' funds by failing to keep them in a clearly identified trust account.

"In light of Respondent's multiple acts of serious professional misconduct, we conclude that Respondent must be given the strongest sanction possible," the court wrote, disbarring her immediately and ordering her name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.

According to the Supreme Court's roll of attorneys, Powell was admitted to practice in May 2003. She could not be reached at the phone number listed.

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