On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of Georgia disbarred attorney Kara Sherrisse Lawrence from practice for the abandonment of a client after claiming thousands of dollars from the latter’s account.

The case is entitled “In that matter of Kara Sherrisse Lawrence” and was brought by the Special Master with case no. S23Y0269.

The charges cited Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15 (I), 1.15 (III) (e), 1.16 (d), 8.1, 8.4 (a) (4), 1, and 9.3.

Allegedly, the respondent while representing a client in an Immigration matter, abandoned her client after debiting thousands of dollars from her client’s account. Moreover, the respondent failed to respond to the Disciplinary Authorities upon the investigation of her misconduct.

The filing states:

“The United States Customs and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has an online portal for processing immigration claims. When an attorney is involved in an immigration claim, the client is required to accept the lawyer’s representation within the online portal. Lawrence’s client and his daughter repeatedly attempted to contact Lawrence to learn how to accept her representation in the portal and to learn the status of the client’s matter. On several occasions, a person in Lawrence’s office sent the client a “code” to use to accept the representation, but none of the codes was valid. Thus, Lawrence never entered an appearance in the client’s immigration matter and did not (and could not) file any immigration paperwork on his behalf. Nevertheless, on May 21, 2019, a person from Lawrence’s office sent the client an email stating that his “application [wa] s moving forward” and directing him to “create an account If [he] d[id] not already have one” with immigration services. Twice, the client appeared at Lawrence’s office to speak with her 4 about how to have his matter proceed with USCIS.”

The filing continues:

“The first time, no one in her office was able to provide the client with any specific information, although he was assured that she was working on his case. The second time, in late May 2019, the client discovered that Lawrence had abandoned her law office and left no contact information. The client continued to try to contact Lawrence but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the client filed a grievance with the State Bar. In Lawrence’s response to that grievance, she misidentified her client as “Mr. Bennett, ” explaining that “Mr. Bennett’s package” of immigration filings could not be processed by USCIS because “ Mr. Bennett ” refused “to formally accept [Lawrence’s] representation.” She further represented that “[d]riving to [her office in] Cobb County was not of interest to Mr. Bennett.”

The Special Master during the investigation found that the respondent’s actions were intentional and that she caused her client harm or potential harm. Moreover, the Special master cited Lawrence’s dishonest or selfish motive as evidenced by her efforts to conceal her misconduct from her client and her intentional failure to comply with the disciplinary process. Having reviewed the record, the court agrees with the findings of the Special Master and decided that the equivalent sanction for the misconduct of the respondent is disbarment.

The Disposition states:

“Having reviewed the record, we agree with the special master. Lawrence’s abandonment of her client and her failure to respond to the disciplinary authorities warrants the sanction of disbarment, and this sanction is consistent with prior cases in which we have disbarred attorneys who abandoned clients and failed to respond to disciplinary authorities.”

Lawrence attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She practices in Marietta, Georgia. She is licensed in Georgia. Her info can be found on lawyer.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.