On Monday, August 14, 2023, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility Ad Hoc Hearing Committee made a recommendation to approve the petition for negotiated discipline, which calls for the suspension of attorney Pjerin Lumaj. The recommendation comes after Lumaj was accused of engaging in various acts of professional misconduct, such as inadequate communication and recordkeeping.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Pjerin Lumaj,” with case no. 22-ND-003.
The charges violated the District of Columbia Rule of Professional Conduct Rules Rule 1.5(b) and 1.15(a) which state:
When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the basis or rate of the fee, the scope of the lawyer’s representation and the expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.
A lawyer shall hold the property of clients or third persons that is in the lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds of clients or third persons that are in the lawyer’s possession (trust funds) shall be kept in one or more trust accounts maintained in accordance with paragraph (b). Other property shall be identified as such and appropriately safeguarded. Complete records of such account funds and other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for a period of five years after termination of the representation.”
As indicated in a petition for negotiated discipline submitted on September 1, 2022, Lumaj, who specialized in immigration cases, faced three distinct complaints forwarded to the Disciplinary Counsel. These grievances pertained to Lumaj’s failure to uphold comprehensive financial records, lack of written communication to clients about the scope of representation and fee details, and his inability to maintain complete financial records of advance fees or entrusted funds.
Subsequently, both Lumaj and the Disciplinary Counsel concurred that a suitable penalty for the stipulated misconduct and rule breaches was a thirty-day suspension, with the stipulation that the suspension would be fully stayed provided Lumaj complied with probationary conditions. Additionally, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel sought the appointment of a hearing committee to review the petition for negotiated discipline.
Consequently, on June 15, 2023, the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee examined the aforementioned petition related to complaints from three clients, concerning Lumaj’s conduct. In its evaluation, the Committee determined that Lumaj had knowingly and willingly admitted to neglecting proper record-keeping of advance fees and failing to provide written fee agreements to two clients, thereby violating D.C. rules.
The stipulated disciplinary action encompassed a full 30-day suspension contingent upon Lumaj completing three hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and refraining from any misconduct within a year. The Committee concluded that the disclosed facts substantiated the violations and the proposed sanction, deeming it reasonable and not excessively lenient in light of Lumaj’s lack of prior discipline, expressions of remorse, and cooperation.
The Recommendation states:
“For the reasons stated above, it is the recommendation of this Hearing Committee that the negotiated discipline be approved and that the Court impose the sanction set forth in Paragraph 12.”
Mr. Lumaj practices in Bronx, New York. He is licensed in New York and the District of Columbia. His info can be found on avvo.com.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.