SAN FRANCISCO -- Vajello attorney Dolores Victor was suspended from the practice of law by the State Bar Court of California on Dec. 4, 2016. The 90-day suspension will be followed by two years' probation, the result of Victor practicing law while she was deemed not eligible.
Victor’s status with the State Bar stemmed from her failure to comply with the minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) hours required to keep her license in good standing. Court documents state Victor, under penalty of perjury, said she had completed the necessary 25 hours during the compliance period of Feb. 1 2011 to Jan. 31, 2014. The attorney did not provide documentation for the hours which the State Bar Court deemed “grossly negligent.” It was not until Jan. 27, 2015, that Victor provided proof of completion of her hours and the $200 reinstatement fee.
While the attorney was inactive, she provided a client with legal advice, filed a complaint, and accepted $5,000 in fees. In another matter, she provided legal advice to a separate client and used her client trust account for personal expenses onmore than 100 occasions, effectively mishandling all $5,000 in the account.
The State Bar Court took several mitigating factors into consideration. Since her admission to the State Bar in 2002, Victor has had no prior record of discipline. She also recognized her wrongdoing and made restitution to the client. In addition, the attorney provided witnesses to attest to her good character and explained she had suffered a heart attack and survived breast cancer which lead to her lapse in judgement.
Finally, Victor entered into a pre-filing stipulation with the State Bar, saving the courts time and resources.
Victor must comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in regards to her suspension. The rules require Victor to notify all of her clients of the ruling, deliver any papers necessary to clients in regards to their cases, return any fees that remain unearned, and alert opposing counsel in any pending litigation of his disbarment. Victor must then file with the clerk of the State Bar Court that she has complied with the provisions of her disbarment.
During the attorney’s probation, she must submit quarterly reports for all of her business dealings to the Office of Probation. In addition, any updates to her personal or professional situations will also need to be provided to the office within 10 business days.
Victor must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). Failure to pass the MPRE or adhere to any of the terms of her probation will result in a two-year suspension without hearing. She will be responsible for covering all court costs, which at the time of sentencing totaled $9,826.67. The costs are subject to increase, in which case Victor will need to pay the additional fees.
The California State Bar was established in 1927 by the state’s legislature and is governed by 19 trustees. The State Bar Court added appointed full-time judges in 1989. Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases can be located online at calbar.ca.gov.