On Tuesday, December 26, 2023, attorney Timothy M. Kolman received a public reprimand from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for misconduct that occurred while representing two clients.
The case is entitled “Office of the Disciplinary Counsel v. Timothy M. Kolman,” with case no. 177 DB 2023.
The charges cited Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a)(2), 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), 1.5(a)(b)(c) which states:
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
A lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.
A lawyer to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from the client.
A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, charge or collect an illegal or excessive fee.
A lawyer should provide the client a writing that states the basis or rate of the lawyer’s fee.
Contingent fee agreement shall be in writing and shall state the method to which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial, appeal, or other recovery.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
According to a joint petition filed with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court on December 15, 2023, Kolman neglected a case, failed to properly communicate with one client, failed to have a proper contingency fee agreement in place, and charged an excessive fee to another client. The misconduct stems from his representation of Jonathan L. Rishel in March 2022 and Tammy L. Saunders, who first consulted Kolman in February 2019.
In the Rishel matter, Kolman was paid $3,500 to review potential legal matters but failed to adequately pursue the cases or respond to Rishel’s requests for updates. Regarding the Saunders matter, Kolman filed two lawsuits on her behalf related to employment issues but failed to create a written contingency fee agreement for the second suit. He then took an unearned 40% contingency fee from a financial distribution Saunders received that was unrelated to the lawsuit.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigated both complaints, and Kolman acknowledged his wrongdoing in statements to the ODC. In mitigation, Kolman refunded all fees to Rishel totaling $3,500, and reimbursed the full $37,845 fee taken from Saunders to the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security.
On December 26, 2023, a three-member panel of the Disciplinary Board formally issued a public reprimand against Kolman as jointly recommended in the petition filed by Kolman and the ODC. The reprimand will now appear permanently on Kolman’s disciplinary record held by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
The public reprimand was deemed an appropriate sanction considering Kolman’s otherwise clean disciplinary record in over 35 years of practice, his acknowledgment of wrongdoing, remedial actions taken, and the mitigating factors presented to the Disciplinary Board. Kolman will retain his law license despite the misconduct.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Kolman is a libel and slander attorney in Penndel, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, graduating in 1987. He acquired his law license in Pennsylvania in 1988.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.