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UPL charge filed against ex-lawyer in Virginia Beach

Former Virginia Beach attorney Philip Leibman has been charged with practicing law the week after his license was revoked by the Virginia State Bar.

The criminal charge was returned among indictments from a Virginia Beach grand jury on Monday. A news release from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office said Liebman represented a client in general district court on Nov. 4. The week before, Liebman had voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law acknowledging charges of mishandling a slip and fall case and altering a proof of service form in a court file. The order of revocation was entered Oct. 25.

Liebman is the third person to be charged with unauthorized practice of law in the last two months.

Williamsburg patent lawyer Bambi Walters last month was charged with practicing law without a Virginia license. Also last month, the Greene County commissioner of revenue was accused of UPL, reportedly for drawing up a legal document to assist a citizen.

The Virginia State Bar Council is pushing for more teeth in the laws against practicing without a license. The council voted in October to seek a two-year limitations period for prosecuting the unauthorized practice of law. The limitations period currently is 12 months. The panel also recommended allowing a UPL victim to recover the greater of a civil penalty of $5,000 or actual damages.

A Bar Council proposal to seek felony status for the unauthorized practice of law was tabled because of estimated costs.

By Peter Vieth

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