Legal Ethics

Former Cozen Associate Suspended for False Billings, Practicing Law on Inactive Status

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed a 30-month suspension on a former associate at Cozen O’Connor accused of false billing while at the law firm and continuing to practice law while on inactive status.

The associate, Matthew Francis Henry, was an associate at Cozen from at least September 2001 through April 2009, according to the joint petition (PDF) in support of discipline. His misconduct spanned five years, the petition says, and involved many false billing entries. He is also accused of continuing to practice law at the firm for the first four months of 2009, even though he was placed on inactive status at the end of 2008 for failing to file his annual form and pay the registration fee.

The amount of overbilling allegedly totaled more than $64,000. According to the allegations, Henry:

• Submitted false time sheets for defense work in a case involving a fall at a dance hall. As a result, the insurer paid nearly $19,000 for work that was never performed, an amount later refunded by the law firm.

• Submitted false time sheets for work on behalf of a cabinet maker in a suit claiming quality problems. As a result, the client paid more than $45,000 for legal services not performed, an amount later refunded by the law firm.

• Submitted time sheets that made it appear he was doing legal work for plaintiffs in two contingency cases.

In mitigation, Henry “self-reported his bogus billings,” the joint petition says, and he has undergone treatment for a long-standing alcohol and marijuana abuse problem. The suspension will be retroactive to the date of a temporary suspension in November 2009.

Hat tip to the Legal Profession Blog.

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