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Board of Professional Responsibility v. Brimley

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 27, 2015

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, WYOMING STATE BAR, Petitioner,
v.
MATTHEW C. BRIMLEY, a member of the Utah State Bar, Respondent

OPINION

E. JAMES BURKE, Chief Justice.

ORDER OF PUBLIC CENSURE

[¶1] This matter came before the Court upon a " Report and Recommendation for Public Censure," filed herein February 12, 2015, by the Board of Professional Responsibility for the Wyoming State Bar, pursuant to Section 16 of the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar (stipulated discipline). The Court, after a careful review of the Board of Professional Responsibility's Report and Recommendation and the file, finds that the Report and Recommendation should be approved, confirmed, and adopted by the Court, and that Respondent, Matthew C. Brimley, should be publicly censured for his conduct.

[¶2] Although Respondent has stipulated to the discipline and this Court adopts the Report and Recommendation, the Court finds that it should supplement the Report

Page 260

and Recommendation by discussing this Court's authority to impose discipline against an attorney who is not licensed in Wyoming. The Court finds that such supplementation is desirable to clarify matters of considerable importance with regard to attorneys who engage in the unauthorized practice of law in Wyoming. As noted in the Report and Recommendation, Respondent is licensed to practice law in Utah. As also noted in the Report and Recommendation, Respondent engaged in the practice of law in Wyoming without authorization.

[¶3] This Court finds that, pursuant to the Disciplinary Code and the Rules of Professional Conduct, Respondent's conduct was properly the subject of a disciplinary proceeding pursuant to the Disciplinary Code. A number of provisions support such action. First, Section 3(a) of the Disciplinary Code defines " attorney" in this fashion:

" Attorney" means a person duly admitted to practice law in this state, a person admitted to practice law by a court of this state, or a person admitted to practice law in any other jurisdiction who engages in the practice of law within this state. (Emphasis supplied.)

Second, Section 2(b) of the Disciplinary Code (Duty to Act Professionally; Grounds for Discipline) provides:

Acts or omissions by an attorney, individually or in concert with any other person or persons, which violate the Rules of Professional Conduct as adopted by this Court, shall constitute misconduct and shall be grounds for discipline, whether or not the act or omission occurred in the course of any attorney-client relationship.

Similarly, Section 3(p) of the Disciplinary Codes defines " misconduct" this way:

" Misconduct" means any act or omission by an attorney, individually or in concert with any other person or persons, which violates the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar.

Turning to the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Unauthorized Practice of Law) provides:

(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

Also, Comment 1 to Rule 5.5 describes the scope of Rule 5.5(a):

[1] A lawyer may practice law only in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice.... Paragraph (a) applies to unauthorized practice of law by a lawyer, whether through the lawyer's ...

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