Brothers had Rhode Island practice for 18 years despite never passing state bar

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A Massachusetts lawyer failed the Rhode Island bar exam eight times, while his lawyer brother never took the state’s bar exam at all, yet they maintained a law office in the state for 18 years, according to court records and a committee report forwarded to Rhode Island’s attorney general.

Samuel Lovett had applied to take the Rhode Island bar exam next week for a ninth time, but he isn’t scheduled to take the exam, a spokesman for the state judiciary told the Providence Journal. The spokesman did not state a reason why, citing confidentiality rules.

Lovett and his brother, Carl J.S. Lovett, held a 98 percent interest in the Lovett & Lovett law firm, which operated in the state for 18 years, according to committee findings adopted by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in a June 19 order (PDF).

The brothers operated almost exclusively out of the Rhode Island office, handling personal injury, criminal and workers’ compensation cases “without meaningful or actual supervision or oversight from two Rhode Island attorneys” who also worked at the law firm, the state supreme court said. The brothers did not sign pleadings or appear in court, however.

The court forwarded the report to the state attorney general “for civil action and/or criminal prosecution.”

The brothers were investigated by the state’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee after a former client complained that he had hired the firm for a personal injury suit that wasn’t filed within the statute of limitations, according to a prior Providence Journal story. The client hired a new lawyer, David Cooper, who complained to the UPL committee.

Cooper said he was “stunned” to learn the brothers weren’t licensed in the state, though their firm advertised on buses and in the Yellow Pages.

Samuel Lovett passed the Massachusetts bar exam on the sixth try, while C.J. Lovett passed the Massachusetts bar exam on his third try. The Providence Journal describes the brothers as “sons of the flamboyant late King of Workers’ Comp, Raul Lovett.”

A lawyer for the Lovett brothers declined to comment when contacted by the Providence Journal, but in court documents he maintained that the brothers were acting as paralegals.

Rhode Island won’t admit lawyers who have failed the bar exam five times, in the state or elsewhere, but the limit didn’t apply to out-of-state lawyers until a rule change was adopted in May, according to the Providence Journal.

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