JEFFERSON CITY – Longtime St. Louis attorney Jerome J. Dobson has been reprimanded following a June 4 Missouri Supreme Court order over allegations he sent letters to Washington University staff, bypassing general counsel, on behalf of his clients in employment cases.
In its order, the Supreme Court found Dobson, managing partner of Dobson, Goldberg, Berns & Rich in St. Louis, violated a professional conduct rule regarding communication with a person represented by counsel.
The court also ordered Dobson to pay $750 to the advisory committee in addition to all costs in the matter.
Dobson began practicing law in Washington, D.C. in 1978 and was admitted to the bar in Missouri on April 24, 1982. He has represented plaintiffs in St. Louis-area employment law cases for more than 35 years and had no prior history of discipline, according to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel's (CDC) brief filed with the Supreme Court in April.
The CDC alleged that Dobson communicated directly with his client’s supervisors at Washington University, despite knowing that the university was represented by counsel and had "explicitly asked" to communicate with the university's counsel.
Dobson had handled several employment cases on behalf of Washington University doctors and he testified before the disciplinary hearing committee that he long has developed a communication procedure on behalf of his employment clients, according to the CDC's brief.
“I’ve litigated against virtually every major corporation in St. Louis," the CDC's brief quoted from Dobson's testimony. "Nobody has ever directed me to communicate solely through general counsel, except for Washington University . . . It’s always been my practice to communicate with somebody in a responsible way that I think is in a position to speak on behalf of the institution that I’m bringing a claim against."
Dobson allegedly sent letters directly to university officials, bypassing the university's general counsel, in multiple instances over three years beginning in 2014, according to the CDC's brief. Dobson also was alleged to have written in 2004 directly to Washington University's executive supervisor on behalf of one of his clients.