CHEYENNE–The Wyoming Supreme Court issued an order of reciprocal discipline suspending Colorado lawyer Mary Jaclyn Thompson (formerly Mary Jaclyn Cook) from the practice of law for a period of nine months effective August 10, 2017. The reciprocal order of suspension stemmed from a corresponding order issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Colorado Supreme Court. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Thompson for nine months, effective August 10, 2017.
Thompson, a member of the products liability group at the Denver office of Faegre Baker Daniels, faced in late 2016 the prospect of failing to meet the firm’s yearly billable hour expectation. In mid-December 2016, Thompson spent two weeks away from the office for her wedding and honeymoon. She returned to the office well short of her hours target.
January 3, 2017, Thompson entered or finalized 60 time entries for the December 2016 billing cycle. In some entries she inflated legitimate time that had not yet been submitted; other entries she fabricated entirely. Her fabricated billing reflected nearly $40,000.00 in time that she had not worked. A supervisor identified Thompson’s December billing as unusually high. In an office meeting in late January 2017, firm partners confronted Thompson. She panicked, claiming that the hours were legitimate. Later that day, she confessed to the partners that she had inflated and fabricated time entries, explaining that she was afraid she would lose her job if she failed to meet the billable hours target. The firm gave Thompson the opportunity to resign, which she accepted. With one exception, all client invoices containing the fabricated time were corrected before they were issued to clients.
In this matter, Thompson violated Colo. RPC 4.1(a) (in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowing make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person) and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). The sole aggravating factor in this case was outweighed by multiple mitigating factors. The Wyoming Supreme Court approved an order of reciprocal discipline which found that Thompson’s conduct violated Rules 4.1(a) and 8.4(c) of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct, which are identical to the Colorado rules. Thompson was ordered to pay an administrative fee in the amount of $750.00 and costs of $50.00 to the Wyoming State Bar.