On Tuesday, November 21, 2023, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order suspending attorney Kenese Lashea Dowdy from the practice of law for six months, though all but 30 days of the suspension was stayed in favor of a one-year probationary period. The order stemmed from a petition filed by the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) regarding multiple allegations of misconduct by Dowdy.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Kenese Lashea Dowdy,” with case no. M.R.031916.

According to the amended petition filed on October 24, 2023, Dowdy was licensed to practice law in Illinois in May 2018. She maintained a solo practice in Chicago between 2018 and 2020, primarily focusing on criminal defense and domestic relations matters. On May 18, 2020, the ARDC removed Dowdy from the roll of attorneys due to her failure to comply with minimum continuing legal education requirements. The petition states Dowdy failed to inform four clients she was representing at the time of the removal about the change in her status.

The petition details allegations that between January 14, 2020, and July 2020, Dowdy failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients – Darren Collins, Aaron Dixon, James Weaver, and Mario Wright – by missing court hearings. She also allegedly failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their matters. Dowdy reportedly did not return unearned fees to her clients after being removed from practicing law. Despite losing her license, Dowdy also continued practicing law. She appeared in court for Dixon’s criminal case on June 3, 2020, even after being removed from the roll of attorneys. Dowdy misrepresented to Weaver in an October 2020 email that she had been removed from the roll of attorneys in July 2020 rather than the correct date of May 18, 2020, in an attempt to justify legal work billed after losing her license. The respondent also at no time, informed Wright and Collins that she was removed from the roll of attorneys.

In mitigation, the petition notes Dowdy had not previously been disciplined and would have presented favorable character evidence. She also expressed regret over her actions. However, her conduct represented a pattern rather than an isolated incident. Considering similar past cases, the Administrator’s office recommended suspending Dowdy for six months, with all but 30 days stayed based on her full cooperation and admission of wrongdoing.

In its November 21 order, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted the ARDC’s petition to impose the six-month suspension with all but 30 days stayed in favor of probation. The conditions of Dowdy’s probation include completing ethics courses, paying costs, and notifying authorities of any criminal charges among other requirements. The suspension goes into effect on December 12, 2023.

The Disposition states:

“Petition by the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to impose discipline on consent pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(b). Allowed. Respondent Kenese Lashea Dowdy is suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after thirty (30) days by a one (1) year period of probation, subject to the following conditions,”

According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Dowdy attended the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, graduating in 2017.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.