On Thursday, August 17, 2023, the State of North Dakota Supreme Court simultaneously ordered the disbarment of Attorney Mark J. Pilch from the practice of law in the state. The disciplinary action was initiated due to Pilch’s multiple misconduct relating to his law practice.

The case is entitled ‘In the Matter of Mark J. Pilch with case no. 20230147.

The charges cited North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4, and 1.16 which regulate rules against:

Competence

Scope of representation and allocation of authority between client and lawyer

Diligence

Communication

Declining or terminating representation

The North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct can be viewed here.

According to the filing, the hearing panel found that Attorney Pilch had been retained by a client to draft a will and change the name of a minor child. However, Pilch failed to effectively communicate with the client and did not fulfill the agreed-upon objectives. He did some work related to the name change but did not complete any work on the will. Pilch also did not return any unearned portion of the fee or provide the client with a copy of his file.

Based on these findings, the hearing panel concluded that Pilch violated several rules of professional conduct, including Diligence (Rule 1.3), Communication (Rule 1.4), and Declining or Terminating Representation (Rule 1.16). Pilch’s conduct resulted in harm to the client, as he abandoned the representation, failed to complete the agreed-upon tasks, and did not provide a refund for unearned fees. He also converted the client’s funds for his own use.

Considering the severity of Pilch’s misconduct, the hearing panel recommended disbarment as the appropriate sanction. The Supreme Court accepted the panel’s findings and recommendations, ordering Pilch’s disbarment from the practice of law.

The disposition reads:

“IT IS ORDERED that the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations by the hearing panel are accepted.

]IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mark J. Pilch is DISBARRED from the practice of law, effective immediately.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Pilch pay restitution to the client in the amount of $2,250 within 30 days of entry of judgment.”

According to Attorney Pilch’s LinkedIn profile, he received his J.D. from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2018, graduating cum laude and earning a Certificate in Indian Law. Prior to starting Pilch Law, he worked at the law firm Crowley Fleck PLLP.

A copy of the original filing of the disbarment can be found here.