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Lawyer revoked for cover-up

A suspended Fairfax lawyer has lost his license after an ill-advised appearance in a Loudoun County courtroom and his efforts to cover up his mistake.

Michael A. Ward’s license was suspended in February of last year for 12 months. Nearly a year later, he appeared at a status conference before a substitute judge at Loudoun Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

The substitute judge recalled that Ward has been suspended and called him up to the bench to confirm the situation. The judge told Ward he could not appear as an attorney and gave him a several minutes to confer with his client, according to agreed facts.

The client later told the bar that Ward never informed him about the license suspension.

Trouble deepened for Ward when the bar investigated. He told bar staff the client had consented to representation beginning only after Ward’s license was restored. Ward provided billing records and payment receipts that appeared to confirm that arrangement, the bar said.

But the records Ward provided conflicted with those provided by the client, the bar said.

The conflicting records revealed that Ward had “falsified both his billing records and the payment receipt in order to mislead” the bar investigator, the bar said. Ward later admitted that he had “doctored the documents” to mislead the bar, the VSB account said.

Ward allegedly provided a falsified receipt for another client in order to suggest he had not accepted that client until after his suspension had ended.

The bar called for an expedited hearing, saying the investigations made clear that Ward “is no longer fit to practice law.”

“His continued practice of law in the Commonwealth poses an imminent danger to the public, and his license must be revoked forthwith,” wrote assistant bar counsel Kathleen M. Uston in August.

Ward signed an affidavit consenting to revocation on Sept. 19.