On Friday, November 17, 2023, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Tim L. Fields for multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct related to improper trust account management and failure to promptly pay medical providers over many years.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Tim L. Fields,” with case no. 2023-B-00343.
The charges cited Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.1(c), 1.8(e)(3), 1.15(a), 1.15(d), 15(f), 1.15(g), 5.3 , 8.1(b), 8.1(c), 8.4(a)(c), 1.2, and 1.8(k) which states:
Failure to submit accurate trust account information.
Overhead costs of a lawyer’s practice shall not be passed on to a client.
Safekeeping property of clients or third persons.
Failure to timely remit funds to a client or third person.
Every check, draft, electronic transfer, or other withdrawal instrument or authorization from a client trust account shall be personally signed by a lawyer.
A lawyer shall create and maintain a trust account for funds belonging to clients and third persons.
Failure to properly supervise a non-lawyer assistant.
Knowing failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority.
Failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation.
Violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Scope of the representation.
A lawyer shall not solicit or obtain a power of attorney or mandate from a client that would authorize the attorney, without first obtaining the client’s informed consent, to settle or execute settlement documents.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
According to the court’s opinion, Fields self-reported to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in 2019 that his office owed around $4.2 million to medical providers for services rendered to his clients between 2009-2015. An audit later revealed Fields engaged in “rolling conversion” where settlement funds from new clients were used to pay old debts from prior clients, rather than disbursing the funds as owed. In total, Fields is estimated to have converted around $6 million from client and third-party funds held in trust over the past decade.
The mismanagement came to light after Fields’ office secretary from 2009-2015, Mary Samuels, transferred large sums of money indiscriminately between Fields’ trust and operating accounts. Though Fields claimed he was unaware of this activity, the court faulted him for failing to properly supervise Samuels and verify disbursements from the trust account. Fields also admitted to providing false information to disciplinary authorities about not maintaining a trust account from 2006-2011.
The court’s opinion details testimony from medical providers like Dr. George Van Wormer and Metropolitan Health Group, who were owed hundreds of thousands – and in one case, millions – by Fields for the treatment of his clients. Though providers worked with Fields to establish payment plans, the debts remained outstanding for years in some situations.
Fields said he relied on Samuels to handle disbursements from over 300 active cases and claimed the $4.2 million amount was inflated. However, he acknowledged improperly using new client funds to pay old debts owed to providers. Fields has since paid down the debts using loans and liquidating personal assets, though still owes around $200,000 according to an audit.
At the disciplinary hearing in April 2021, Fields acknowledged mistakes but blamed much of the misconduct on the lack of oversight of his former secretary. However, the Court decided to suspend Fields from the practice of law.
The Disposition states:
“Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and the disciplinary board, and considering the record, briefs, and oral argument, it is ordered that Tim L. Fields, also known as Timmy L. Fields, Louisiana Bar Roll number 24794, be and he hereby suspended from the practice of law for three years. It is further ordered that the respondent shall make full restitution to the third-party providers to whom money is still owed.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Fields is a litigation attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the founder of the Law Offices of Tim L Fields, LLC. He attended the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, graduating in 1996. He acquired his law license in Louisiana in 1997.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.