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Ga. Lawyers Indicted for Advising N.C. College


— April 7, 2004

A North Carolina grand jury has indicted Atlanta lawyers F. Edwin Hallman Jr. and H. King Buttermore III — along with their firm, Decker, Hallman, Barber & Briggs — for the unauthorized practice of law.

Cleveland County District Attorney William C. Young said the misdemeanor charges could result in probated sentences for Hallman and Buttermore and an order that the firm return fees paid by Gardner-Webb University, a 3,500-student Baptist school in Boiling Springs, N.C.

While a bitter internal dispute at the university seems to have prompted the charges, the action raises the question of how far law firms can go in serving clients in states where they are not members of the bar.

The firm in 2002 conducted an investigation that largely cleared M. Christopher White, Gardner-Webb’s president, of wrongdoing for ordering that a basketball player’s grade point average be recalculated in a way that made the student eligible for the season. The firm’s report, however, led the school’s board of trustees to reassign two faculty members who had been critical of White’s actions — moves that led several faculty members to resign in protest. White later resigned. . . .

[L]egal ethics experts said that it’s not uncommon for laypeople pretending to be lawyers to suffer criminal penalties for practicing law without a license. But they said it’s rare for members of the bar in one state to get in trouble — not to mention be indicted — for working in another state.

Details here from the Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com.


A North Carolina grand jury has indicted Atlanta lawyers F. Edwin Hallman Jr. and H. King Buttermore III — along with their firm, Decker, Hallman, Barber & Briggs — for the unauthorized practice of law.

Cleveland County District Attorney William C. Young said the misdemeanor charges could result in probated sentences for Hallman and Buttermore and an order that the firm return fees paid by Gardner-Webb University, a 3,500-student Baptist school in Boiling Springs, N.C.

While a bitter internal dispute at the university seems to have prompted the charges, the action raises the question of how far law firms can go in serving clients in states where they are not members of the bar.

The firm in 2002 conducted an investigation that largely cleared M. Christopher White, Gardner-Webb’s president, of wrongdoing for ordering that a basketball player’s grade point average be recalculated in a way that made the student eligible for the season. The firm’s report, however, led the school’s board of trustees to reassign two faculty members who had been critical of White’s actions — moves that led several faculty members to resign in protest. White later resigned. . . .

[L]egal ethics experts said that it’s not uncommon for laypeople pretending to be lawyers to suffer criminal penalties for practicing law without a license. But they said it’s rare for members of the bar in one state to get in trouble — not to mention be indicted — for working in another state.

Details here from the Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com.

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