Legal Ethics

Claimed affair with client leads to lawsuits, misdemeanor plea, disbarment for NC attorney


An affair with a client he was representing in a domestic matter led to trouble on multiple fronts for a North Carolina lawyer.

First, David Shawn Clark was named as a defendant in an alienation of affection lawsuit filed against him by the woman’s husband in 2010. Then, after Clark and his wife filed what the state bar describes as a frivolous defamation lawsuit against the husband, the attorney wound up facing a legal ethics complaint.

In addition to filing the lawsuit without adequate basis, Clark included in it confidential information he obtained by representing the defendant’s wife, the bar contends It also alleges that Clark pressured both his former client and his legal secretary, who happened to be the wife of a sitting Catawba County judge, to lie and deny that he and the client had an affair, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Indicted in 2011 on charges of obstruction and extortion, Clark took a misdemeanor plea and got a year of probation. Meanwhile, his former client lost custody of her children after he stepped aside from representing her, the state bar says.

Now Clark has been disbarred for what the bar describes as a “web of deceit” that damaged his former client, his former legal secretary and the profession. He can reapply for admission in five years, the Hickory Daily Record reports.

The Observer could not reach Clark for comment Monday, but his lawyer, David Freedman, earlier told the Daily Record that Clark is sorry about his conduct, which Freedman described as isolated, and appreciates the support of those who testified about his skills as a lawyer.

Clark lost a close race in 2010 in the Republican primary for district attorney in a three-county region, and Freedman tells the newspaper his client hopes to return to serve the people of Catawba County in the future.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Matrimonial lawyer made false statements in suit against ex-client’s husband, bar complaint alleges”

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