Leavenworth, Kansas, attorney Shelley L. Knowles will no longer practice law in Missouri.
The Missouri State Bar Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s request for reciprocal disbarment of Knowles was granted by the Missouri Supreme Court on Feb. 16.
The attorney had voluntarily surrendered her license to practice law to the Kansas State Bar on Aug. 16 while a hearing on her alleged misconduct was pending in the Kansas Supreme Court. Upon receiving the motion (Kansas Supreme Court Docket No. 21043), the Missouri State Bar filed its own complaint, and an investigation into the matter was conducted.
In the report of findings of the lawyer’s alleged misconduct by the Missouri Supreme Court, Shelley failed to communicate with clients (Rule 4-1.4), charged unreasonable fees (Rule 4-1.5), failed to properly safe-keep client’s property (Rule 4-1.15), improperly terminated her representation of a client (Rule 4-1.16), failed to expedite cases and litigation (Rule 4-3.2) and provided false statements to the State Bar and other persons (Rule 4-3.3, Rule 4-4.1)
Former clients have used review sites such as Avvo.com to voice their discontent with the attorney. According to one former client, Shelley allegedly took advanced fees to represent the client in a divorce and custody case but failed to complete the work needed. After over a year and a half, the former client claims that the matter was still pending and that the few times he could reach Knowles, she would repeatedly tell him the case should be “wrapped up next month.”
Following the ruling of disbarment, the attorney must comply with Rule 5.27 of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct. Knowles is unable to accept any new retainers for services or act as a lawyer in any new cases. The attorney will need to withdraw from any pending litigation and notify all current clients and necessary counselors of her status. The lawyer’s license will need to be submitted to the Supreme Court Clerk within 15 days of the ruling, and Knowles will also need to return any unearned fees. Lastly, the attorney must notify any opposing counsel in any pending matters of the ruling.
The Missouri Supreme Court is in Jefferson City and was established in 1821 as the highest court in the state. It is presided over by seven justices: Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge and justices Laura Denvri Stith, Mary Rhodes Russell, Zei Fischer, George W. Draper III, and Paul C. Wilson. The seventh seat is currently vacant following the death of Justice Richard Teiteiman. Missouri Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor and serve a 12-year term.
The Kansas Supreme Court is in Topeka and is presided over by seven justices, including Chief Justice Lawtin Nuss and justices Maria L. Luckert, Carol A. Beier, Eric S. Rosen, Lee A. Johnson, Dan Biles and Caleb Stegall. Justices are elected by the sitting governor and given six-year terms.