Legal Ethics

Lawyer Suspended for Overbilling Is Disbarred for Continuing to Practice

The Kansas Supreme Court has disbarred a Lawrence lawyer for continuing to practice after he was suspended for overbilling the state insurance department.

Lawyer Chris Miller had argued he was acting more as a law clerk, legal assistant or receptionist during his two-year suspension, but the Kansas Supreme Court disagreed, the Lawrence Journal-World & News reports.

In an opinion (PDF) issued Friday, the court cited hearing panel findings that Miller continued to operate a workers’ compensation practice, but hired another lawyer and friend, Chris Cowger, to sign documents and appear in court. Cowger earned $70 an hour and was paid as an independent contractor, the court said.

“The problem here is more fundamental than the nature of the work Miller performed,” the opinion says. “Given the uncontroverted finding that Cowger was an independent contractor of the professional corporation, he would not be Miller’s ‘attorney-employer.’

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