LOS ANGELES — The State Bar of California has suspended attorney Donald William McVay from the practice of law for one year.
The Rancho Santa Fe attorney, who was admitted to the State Bar in 1982, was found culpable in three matters in which he practiced law while under suspension. His suspension began Nov. 25, 2016, according to the State Bar's website.
In one of the matters, according to court documents, McVay was hired to “summarize a civil matter” for a client in June 2011. In July of that year, the attorney was suspended from law for failing to pay child support, though at the time he was no longer working on the client’s case. However, in October, McVay emailed the client to tell them he would refile paperwork despite being suspended. During this time, the attorney collected thousands of dollars in illegal fees. When the client complained to the bar, McVay returned $15,760 to the client.
Also, the State Bar Court alleged that McVay falsely reported to them on the status of his practice during his suspension. On July 29, 2014, McVay responded to an inquiry made by the Member Service Center of the State Bar that he had not practiced law during the period in which he had been suspended for failure to pay child support. McVay signed a declaration and his suspension ended in early 2015. Immediately after the suspension was lifted, McVay represented a client in a property matter. McVay directly corresponded with a “represented party” despite the party’s attorney instructing McVay to communicate solely through him, according to court documents.
For mitigation, McVay had no previous incidents of discipline.
McVay will be placed on suspension by the State Bar for one year with two years of probation, during which he will be required to submit quarterly updates to the State Bar and report any changes in his status within 10 days. In addition to the suspension, McVay must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. Failure to pass the exam or to follow any other conditions of the probation will result in another two years' suspension without hearing.
McVay must comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in accordance with his suspension. According to courts.ca.gov, the rule requires McVay to tell each of his clients about the ruling, provide any papers deemed necessary to his clients for their cases, return any remaining unearned fees, and let opposing counsel in any pending litigation know about his disbarment. In addition, McVay will be required to file with the clerk of the State Bar Court about his compliance with his disbarment provisions.
To view court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases, go online at calbar.ca.gov.