On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, the Virginia State Bar Subcommittee publicly reprimanded Attorney John Edward Williams without terms for charging a former client for time spent responding to a bar complaint filed against him.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of John Edward Williams,” with case no. 24-041-129498.

According to the filing, Williams had been retained in 2023 by client M.H. for tax advice regarding returns, liabilities, and compliance matters. That year, M.H. filed a disciplinary complaint with the state bar against Williams. In response, Williams sent M.H. an invoice for $1,890 charging for the time spent responding to the bar complaint. Williams later filed a lawsuit in Prince William County court to collect on the invoice and was awarded a default judgment against M.H. for over $3,900, which included the disputed bar complaint charges.

M.H. then filed his own complaint with the bar arguing it was inappropriate for Williams to charge for responding to a disciplinary matter. The state bar advised Williams that charging a client in this manner was against the rules. However, Williams had maintained the fees were reasonable. The court later granted a motion to vacate the default judgment in the collection case.

After reviewing the complaints and facts, the subcommittee determined Williams’ actions constituted misconduct under bar rules regarding reasonable fees. They issued a public reprimand without additional terms against Williams for charging his former client for time spent defending himself in a disciplinary case initiated by that same client.

The Disposition states:

“Accordingly, it is the decision of the subcommittee to impose a Public Reprimand Without Terms, and John Edward Williams is hereby so reprimanded. Pursuant to Part 6, IV, 13-9.E of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Williams is a tax attorney in Alexandria, Virginia. He acquired his law license in Virginia in 1974. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.