On Wednesday, June 28, 2023,  the Joint Petition in Support of Discipline on Consent was granted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, suspending Attorney Jeffrey Michael Childs for two years.

The case is entitled Office of the Disciplinary Counsel v. Jeffrey Michael Childs with case no. 160 DB 2022.

The charges cited RPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(b), 3.2, 3.3(a)(1), 4.1, 8.4 (c), 8.4(d), and 203(b)(7), Pa.R.D.E. which state that:

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client.  Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.

A lawyer shall explain the matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.

A lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.

In the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of a material fact or law to a third person or fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid aiding and abetting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The following shall also be grounds for discipline – Failure by respondent-attorney without good cause to respond to Disciplinary Counsel’s request or supplemental request under Disciplinary Board Rules, 87.7(b) for a statement of the respondent-attorney’s position.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

This incident stemmed from a string of incidents from August 2021 to January 2022, encompassing three civil action complaints against Erie, the company the respondent represented where he became embroiled in successive violations involving failure to submit or comply with the court’s order, failure to provide the client with accurate information, and false representations, specifically giving false information and falsifying a letter.

The respondent, however, first admitted to his wrong-doings to his employer – the Robb Leonard Mulvihill LLP law firm. Subsequently, on  January 27, 2022, Mr. Childs’employment with the firm was terminated.

During the prosecution of the case, the respondent admitted his misconduct and has since shown deep remorse over having done them, accepted full responsibility for his actions, and has fully cooperated with the process.  Mr. Childs also gave his content to the recommended disciplinary action.  All these were given weight as mitigating factors in the recommendations of the appropriate disciplinary action. Other mitigating factors considered were the respondent’s clean track record and his voluntary departure from his legal practice upon the termination of his employment with his previous employer.  The fact that although the misconduct involved 3 cases, the respondent represented only one client, also mitigated the discipline. And further tipping the scales in the respondent’s favor was his submission to medical intervention for his mental health and addiction issues.

The petitioner and respondent jointly recommended a two-year suspension for the respondent’s admitted misconduct which the parties have agreed to not be retroactive or concurrent to the respondent’s current administrative suspension for failure to comply with his Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education requirements.

The request of the Petitioner and the respondent reads:

“WHEREFORE, the Petitioner and Respondent respectfully request that:

(a)    Pursuant to Rule 215(e) and 215(g), Pa.R.D.E.. a three-member Panel of the Disciplinary Board review the above Joint Petition in Support of Discipline of Consent and file a recommendation with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that Respondent receive a two (2) year suspension; and

(b) Pursuant to Rule 215(I) Pa.R.D.E., a three-member Panel of the Disciplinary Board enter an order for Respondent to pay the necessary expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of this matter, and that all expenses be paid by Respondent within thirty (3) days after the notice of taxed expenses is sent to the Respondent.”

After careful scrutiny of the above petition, the Order of the Supreme Court reads:

AND NOW, this 28th day of June 2023, upon consideration of the recommendation of the Three-Member Panel of the Disciplinary Board, the Joint Petition in Support of Discipline on Consent is granted, and Jeffrey Michael Childs is suspended on consent from the Bar of this Commonwealth, for a period of two years. Respondent shall comply with the provisions of Pa.R.D.E. 217 and pay costs to the Disciplinary Board. See.Pa.R.D.E. 208(g).”

Jeffrey Michael Childs is an attorney from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has been licensed to practice law in 2017. More of Mr. Child’s bio can be found here.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.