On Monday, December 11, 2023, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia issued a mandate suspending Attorney James M. Pierson’s law license for 90 days for misconduct in handling a personal injury settlement for a client.

The case is entitled “Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. James M. Pierson,” with case no. 21-0590.

The disciplinary case against Pierson began in 2021 when the Lawyer Disciplinary Board filed a formal statement of charges against him. Pierson ultimately admitted to violating multiple rules related to managing client funds, communicating with clients, and maintaining proper records.

Specifically, Pierson admitted failing to execute a proper written fee agreement for representing a client in a personal injury case, failing to timely pay out subrogation claims from the $5,000 settlement, and improperly depositing personal funds into his client trust account, which is only meant to hold client money. This led the client to have to pay one subrogation claim herself to avoid debt collection.

In a memorandum decision issued on November 8, 2023, the Supreme Court agreed with the Hearing Panel Subcommittee’s findings that Pierson knowingly violated duties to his client, the public, the legal system, and the profession. The Court also found aggravating factors such as multiple rule violations, the vulnerability of the client, and Pierson’s prior disciplinary record and substantial legal experience.

As a result, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended Pierson’s law license for 90 days. In addition, the Court ordered that upon reinstatement, Pierson must complete one year of supervised practice, nine additional hours of continuing legal education in law office management including six hours on client trust account management, comply with disciplinary rules, and pay the costs of the proceeding, which totaled $1,403.15.

On December 11, 2023, the Supreme Court issued a mandate finalizing its memorandum decision and formally ordering the 90-day suspension and other sanctions against Pierson. The mandate was certified to both the Lawyer Disciplinary Board and Pierson himself. With this, the disciplinary case has concluded with Pierson receiving a 90-day suspension of his ability to practice law in West Virginia.

According to avvo.com, Mr. Pierson is a child custody attorney in Charleston, West Virginia. He attended the West Virginia University. He acquired his law license in Virginia in 1985.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.