Justices reprimand Plainfield lawyer, former bar foundation leader for ‘materially limited’ representation

The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a former Indianapolis Bar Foundation president for his role in providing legal advice to a former client despite being “materially limited” by his own personal interest in the matter.

Justices addressed Mark R. Waterfill in a disciplinary order signed by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush on Thursday.

The order stipulates that Waterfill represented “Seller,” who was negotiating to sell his company to “Buyer.” Prior to Waterfill’s representation, the parties had entered into an exclusivity agreement that limited Seller’s ability to negotiate with others for 150 days.  But Seller ultimately rejected Buyer’s final offer and the sale fell through.

For his part, Waterfill entered his last billing entry in the matter on Nov. 25, 2015. Waterfill, on behalf of a company he owned, sent a proposed purchase agreement to Seller two days later.

Although Seller was aware of Waterfill’s affiliation with his company, Waterfill did not advise Seller in writing that he was no longer Seller’s counsel and was not representing Seller in the proposed purchase agreement. Waterfill also failed to obtain Seller’s informed consent in writing, the order says.

“On November 30, Seller sought legal advice from Respondent regarding release from his exclusivity agreement with Buyer, which Respondent provided despite being materially limited by his own personal interest,” the order says. “Respondent and Seller consummated their agreement on December 4, 2015.”

According to the “Order Approving Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline,” the parties agreed that Waterfill violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.7(a)(2) and 1.9(a)

A public reprimand was issued for the Plainfield attorney, which the high court determined was an appropriate discipline consistent with that imposed in other cases involving similar misconduct. 

The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Waterfill, who is ordered to pay $457.41 to the clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court. Of those costs, $207.41 must be made payable to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission as reimbursement for investigative expenses incurred and $250 to the clerk for court costs.

This is Waterfill’s only disciplinary action, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

The case is In the Matter of: Mark R. Waterfill, 21S-DI-462.

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