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Former partner suspended for bogus billing after associate had reported him

Legal Ethics

An Arizona lawyer has agreed to a two-year suspension after an associate at his former law firm voiced concerns about billing for work that was never done.

Hoyt Shay Neal was suspended for billing multiple clients for legal services that hadn’t been performed and misrepresenting completed work to another client, according to the July 19 agreement for discipline (PDF). The Legal Profession Blog notes the sanction.

Neal’s suspension will be followed by two years of probation.

Neal was a partner at Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman when an associate preparing an application for attorney fees in a court case saw that Neal had billing entries for work he didn’t do, including depositions that had not occurred, according to allegations in the agreement for consent discipline.

The associate took his concerns to another partner who conducted a review that confirmed Neal had billed for depositions that had not occurred. The law firm fired Neal and reviewed his other files. The investigation revealed Neal had billed for a mediation and a trial conference he didn’t attend and for drafting documents that could not be located, the agreement says.

Neal also excessively billed for work he didn’t perform, according to the agreement.

The firm corrected Neal’s erroneous billing.

In 2013 while at Renaud Cook Druy Mesaros, Neal misrepresented to a client that he had done work that wasn’t performed, but told bar counsel the misstatements weren’t intentional. He later corrected the misrepresentations.

The agreement says Neal was encountering emotional and personal problems at the time of misconduct and he had no disciplinary history.

Neal’s LinkedIn profile says he is a legal investment analyst at Pravati Capital. A…

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