On Monday, October 23, 2023, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board accepted the Agreed Disposition, suspending Attorney Kelly Keller’s license for one year and one day, reciprocally matching sanctions already imposed in Pennsylvania.
The case is titled ‘In the Matter of Kelly Elizabeth Clements Keller’ with case no. 24-000-129579.
The cited violations involve numerous ethics rules requiring competence, communication, safekeeping of client funds, and adherence to administrative suspension requirements, encompassing several client representations.
The transgressions were committed in Pennsylvania. However, Attorney Keller stipulated and agreed that the Disciplinary Board of the Virginia State Bar should impose the same discipline imposed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In May 2019, Claudia Williams hired Kelley Keller to handle some internal property and business matters. Williams paid Attorney Keller a $15,000 upfront fee to complete the work. Over the next two years, Attorney Keller failed to finish all of the services she was retained for.
When Williams terminated Attorney Keller’s representation in September 2021, she had only partially completed the work despite being paid in full. Williams requested a $10,000 refund for the uncompleted services, but Attorney Keller only offered to refund $4,164. Attorney Keller did not promptly refund the unearned portion of Williams’ fee until March 2023 when she finally mailed a cashier’s check.
That same month, Bill and Laurie Bodisch also terminated Attorney Keller’s representation after over two years. In November 2019, the Bodischs paid Keller a $13,500 upfront fee to handle some business ventures and estate planning. However, Attorney Keller failed to respond to many status update requests and never provided any estate planning services. At termination, Attorney Keller also had not finished the business work despite being fully paid. The Bodischs requested a $10,000 refund for the incomplete work, but Keller only refunded $1,500 in March 2023.
In September 2020, Jamie Trull paid Attorney Keller $3,485 to file three trademark applications. Then in December 2021, Trull paid an additional $1,495 for two more applications. However, Attorney Keller failed to file any of Trull’s applications and did not respond to status update requests. In early 2022, Trull demanded a refund for the additional applications since the work was never completed. Keller encouraged Truill to initiate a chargeback, which was ultimately successful in recovering the fees.
By May 2021, several other clients had also terminated Keller and requested refunds for incomplete work. This included Ashley Armstrong, James and Connie Kraeger, Ellen Johnson, Carl Wise, and others. Attorney Keller failed to properly serve all clients during a brief administrative suspension from the bar between April and July 2021 for CLE noncompliance. She also continued practicing law without authorization.
By early 2023, Attorney Kelley knew disciplinary action was inevitable unless she took corrective action. She sent letters of apology along with partial fee refunds to 11 affected clients, totaling over $27,000 returned. In March 2023, Attorney Keller issued refunds to resolve the outstanding matters. However, this was too little, too late to avoid sanctions for her violations. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Attorney Kelley Keller on consent for one year and one day.
For Attorney Keller’s actions, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board accepted an agreement to suspend Kelly Keller’s license to practice law for one year and one day, with the ability to petition for reinstatement thereafter. This mirrored the discipline imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in May 2023.
The disposition reads:
“WHEREFORE, upon consideration of the Agreed Disposition, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order of Discipline, and the Respondent’s Disciplinary Record, the arguments of the parties, and after due deliberation,
It is ORDERED that the Disciplinary Board accepts the Agreed Disposition, and the Respondent shall receive a Suspension with Right to Petition for Reinstatement after One Year and One Day, as set forth in the Agreed Disposition, which is attached and incorporated in this Memorandum Order.”
According to LinkedIn, Attorney Kelly Elizabeth Clements Keller is from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She attended the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, graduating in 2008. According to the filing, she acquired her license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia on October 16, 2008.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.