In the Disciplinary Matter Involving BRYON E. COLLINS, Attorney.
File Nos. 2013D081/ 2015D044/2015D048
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, and Bolger,
Justices. [Carney, Justice, not participating.]
disciplinary matter concerns an uncontested recommendation by
the Alaska Bar Association's Disciplinary Board that
Bryon Collins be disbarred.
Counsel filed a Petition for Formal Hearing against Collins
with the Disciplinary Board. Collins and Bar Counsel
initially stipulated to Collins's disbarment, but the
Disciplinary Board rejected the stipulation. The Disciplinary
Board refused to approve a stipulation that did not include
Collins's agreement that a formal enforceable money
judgment for $30, 763 be entered against him, reflecting the
amount paid by the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
(LFCP) in connection with one of the client matters
underlying the uncontested disbarment. Collins declined
because such a stipulation provision had never before been
required by the Disciplinary Board and he did not want to set
precedent by stipulation, believing that any such change in
enforcement should come from this court.
Petition was then presented to an Area Hearing
Committee.The Petition set out the disciplinary
matter's facts, which we summarize below.
First Disciplinary Matter
represented a client under a 25% contingency fee agreement
for an employment discrimination claim. In 2012 an
administrative judge awarded the client $41, 018, which was
paid to Collins. In May 2013 the client filed a grievance
alleging that Collins had: failed to appeal the
administrative judge's decision; never paid the client
any money; never accounted for the money or responded to
requests for information; and failed to deliver the
client's file to the client's new lawyer. Bar Counsel
requested that Collins respond to the grievance; he did not
Counsel opened a formal investigation in November 2013 and
notified Collins of his obligation to respond to the
client's allegations. After extensions of time Collins
responded in January 2014 that he believed he owed the client
$12, 500, but he did not provide a substantive accounting.
Collins offered to pay the client $ 12, 500 if the client
agreed that would resolve the matter; Bar Counsel asked
Collins for further information. After more delay Collins
responded in July with documents that did not account for the
client's funds or otherwise respond to Bar Counsel's
information request. Collins acknowledged that his document
production was incomplete and represented that he would
supplement his production in two weeks. Collins did not
supplement his original production.
December Bar Counsel asked us to suspend Collins from the
practice of law based on his failure to account for the
client's funds or fully respond to Bar Counsel's
information requests. Collins did not respond. In January
2015 we suspended Collins from the practice of law for
failure to respond appropriately to Bar Counsel's
requests for information about the client's grievance.
the client filed a claim with the LFCP. Collins appeared for
a September hearing; he asked for and received a continuance
to complete his preparation and to submit documents, but he
then did not submit any documents. At the next hearing
Collins did not appear, but his lawyer appeared and asked for
yet another continuance. The LFCP hearing committee denied
the continuance request and proceeded with the hearing. At
the hearing's conclusion the committee found that Collins
had received and spent the client's funds and that there
was no evidentiary explanation for Collins's prior
assertion that he owed the client only $12, 500. The
committee concluded that Collins dishonestly converted $30,
763 of the client's funds and recommended that the client
be paid from the LFCP. In October the Bar Association's
Board of Governors agreed that a reimbursable loss had
occurred and approved payment from the LFCP.
Second Disciplinary Matter
different client retained Collins to represent him in a real
estate matter. R. 10] The client advanced Collins $2, 500.
But Collins took no action on the client's behalf; failed
to provide progress reports or responses to the client's
information requests; failed to account for the client's
funds; and failed to respond to formal demands for client
records, accountings, and funds. Bar Counsel opened a formal
investigation in August 2015 and sent Collins a request for
information. Collins did not respond.
Third Disciplinary Matter
Counsel learned that during 2015 - after we suspended Collins
from practicing law - Collins actively represented a
bankruptcy debtor, including preparing legal documents for
the bankruptcy proceedings and forming a new limited
liability company. It appeared that Collins also actively
participated in a separate civil matter by negotiating a
settlement plan on the debtor's behalf. Bar Counsel
opened a ...