On Thursday, October 12, 2023, The Virginia State Bar’s Second District, Section I Subcommittee issued a public admonition with terms against attorney Shalonda Michelle Tillman. The admonition was the result of an agreed disposition between the Virginia State Bar and Tillman, who was accused of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to deposit unearned fees into a trust account and maintain proper records.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Shalonda Michelle Tillman,” with case no. 22-021-125917.
According to the subcommittee’s determination, Tillman was hired by a client in December 2021 to represent him in a child custody and visitation matter in the District of Columbia. Tillman and the client agreed to an hourly rate of $275, with $2,500 paid in advance. However, Tillman failed to deposit any of the advanced fees into a trust account at any time and instead maintained a DC IOL TA account at PNC Bank.
In May 2022, the client became dissatisfied with Tillman’s legal services and sought a refund of $2,500. Tillman provided the client with an invoice reflecting legal services exceeding $2,500 but failed to provide any documentation to support the description of legal work contained in the invoice.
The subcommittee determined that Tillman’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct which requires attorneys to hold property of clients or third persons separate from their own property and to maintain proper records. The subcommittee also found that Tillman violated the rule which states that the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct apply to attorneys practicing law in Virginia.
As a result of the violations, the subcommittee imposed a public admonition with terms on Tillman. The terms include requiring Tillman to read a book on trust accounting and law office management, complete four hours of continuing legal education in the subject matter of trust accounting and law office management, and submit to unannounced reviews by a VSB investigator of her trust account books, records, and bank records for a period of one year.
The Disposition states:
“Accordingly, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a Public Admonition with Terms.”
According to avvo.com, Ms. Tillman is a divorce and separation attorney in Norfolk, Virginia. She attended the Florida Coastal School of Law, graduating in 2017. She acquired her law license in Virginia in 2021.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.