On Friday, October 13, 2023, Attorney Kelli R. Riley was publicly censured by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Colorado Supreme Court. The disciplinary action was approved based on a stipulation to discipline.
The case is titled ‘People v. Kelli R. Riley’ with case no. 23PDJ055.
Attorney Riley was found to have violated Colorado RPC 1.5(a), which prohibits lawyers from charging unreasonable fees or unreasonable amounts for expenses.
The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The case involved Attorney Riley entering into a contingency fee agreement in March 2020 to represent a client in an employment law matter. The agreement entitled Riley to receive thirty-five percent of her client’s gross recovery from the case. The agreement also included a termination clause stating that if either Riley or the client terminated the representation before the case was resolved, the client would pay Attorney Riley her fees incurred in the case, including costs and expenses. The fees were to be paid from the client’s gross recovery and limited to the amount Ms. Riley would have earned on contingency. However, the agreement did not address late payments or the accrual of interest for late payments.
In July 2021, Attorney Riley withdrew from the case, approximately four months before the scheduled mediation. In the following month, Attorney Riley attempted to obtain payment from her former client for a total amount of $28,747.65, which she had invoiced in the matter. The client made a payment that month, and Ms. Riley sent a new invoice for $25,678.00 in September 2021. Later that month, Riley sent her former client two invoices for late payment fees with an eighteen percent interest rate.
The former client obtained new counsel and eventually settled the case for $25,000.00 in November 2021. In January, Ms. Riley filed a motion for entry of judgment for an attorney’s lien in the amount of $28,747.65 plus interest at an eighteen percent annual rate, but the motion was unsuccessful.
According to Avvo.com., Attorney Kelli R. Riley is an employment and labor attorney. She attended the University of St. Thomas School of Law, graduating in 2012. She acquired her license in Colorado in the same year.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.