Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to abide by their clients' decisions concerning representation. The rules also prohibit lawyers from soliciting employment concerning a particular event, paying non-lawyers to solicit for them, accepting or continuing employment knowingly procured in violation of the rules, violating the rules or knowingly inducing others to do so, and engaging in dishonest conduct, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Though the rules have long been in place, these rules have not always been enforced as routinely as should be, with the consequence that certain Texas attorneys have chosen to ignore them.
The Texas State Bar's Commission for Lawyer Discipline has been cracking down on violators lately, but too many scofflaw lawyers aren’t getting the message.
Edinburg hailstorm attorney R. Kent Livesay knows what can happen to scofflaws, because he just got censured by the Commission for violating those rules and has been ordered to surrender his law license for a year.
The Commission filed a disciplinary petition against him in Hidalgo County three months ago, accusing him of demanding hail storm damages from Allstate on behalf of a client he did not represent, and it recently secured a judgment of professional misconduct.
According to the petition, a Pharr couple were approached last year by a man claiming to have observed hail damage to their roof. He solicited the coupe to engage Livesay as their attorney in a claim against Allstate. Though they neither met nor spoke to Livesay, he sent a letter to Allstate claiming he'd been retained to represent them.
Livesay must now pay nearly $2,300 in attorney’s fees, publish notice of his censure in the Texas Bar Journal, notify all clients of his suspension, and return all files, papers, monies, and property belonging to them.
What happened to him could happen to other Texas attorneys persistently engaging in similar practices. They better start getting the message. Can’t practice law without a license.