On Monday, April 17, 2023, the Supreme Court of Colorado suspended Denver attorney Michael George Sawaya for professional misconduct. The suspension was in response to Sawaya and the Regulation Counsel’s stipulation to discipline filed before the Court seeking to impose a public censure upon Sawaya.

The case is styled “People v. Michael George Sawaya,” case #23PDJ012.

The charges cited RPC 1.5(b) and 1.8(i) of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, which states that:

A lawyer must inform a client in writing about the lawyer’s fees and expenses within a reasonable time after being retained, if the lawyer has not regularly represented the client.

A lawyer generally may not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client.

The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

According to the filing, Sawaya failed to give his client whom he had a romantic relationship, a written cost estimate of his fees until more than half a year later. It was further found that Sawaya entered into a business deal with his client while representing the same by lending the client $280,000 in exchange for a permanent thirty-percent membership interest in the client’s company.

The filing states:

“In late 2019, Sawaya and the owner ended their romantic relationship. In early 2020, the owner retained another lawyer to litigate the owner’s dispute with the design firm. Around that time, the owner was ticketed for running an unlicensed business at the commercial property. Sawaya appeared in court on the owner’s behalf. Sawaya never provided the owner a written statement of the basis or rate of his fee for the representation.”

The filing continues:

“In late 2020, Sawaya loaned the owner more than $60,000.00, even though the owner had made no payments to Sawaya on the $280,000.00 promissory note. In late 2021, Sawaya and the owner met to discuss how to resolve their business relationship. Their discussions were not fruitful. Ultimately, Sawaya initiated an arbitration action against the owner and his company, and the owner sued Sawaya. Sawaya also moved to appoint a receiver to manage the properties. Pending the outcome of arbitration, the lawsuit is stayed.”

In light of the foregoing facts, the presiding disciplinary judge, after considering the parties’ stipulation, ordered the public censure of Sawaya based on his violation of the above-cited rules of professional conduct.

Sawaya’s public censure took effect on April 17, 2023.

Mr. Michael George Sawaya earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. He has been licensed in Colorado, license no. 06772. Sawaya’s online bio can be found on Avvo.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.