Erwin attorney suspended from practice

Sue Guinn Legg • May 30, 2019 at 9:34 PM

ERWIN — The Tennessee Supreme Court has temporarily suspended Erwin attorney William “Bill” Lawson from practicing law.

In an order filed May 24, the court summarily suspended Lawson’s law license based on allegations that he misappropriated funds, “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public” and failed to respond a complaint of misconduct filed with the court’s Board of Professional Responsibility.

The order immediately prohibited Lawson from accepting any new clients and requires him to cease representing his existing clients by June 23. After June 23, Lawson will be prohibited from using any material indicating he is an attorney or being present at any location where the practice of law is conducted.

The order also requires Lawson to notify all of his clients with pending cases, all co-counselors and all opposing attorneys of his suspension and to deliver all papers and property to which they are entitled.

While Lawson may request a dissolution or modification of the suspension for “good cause shown,” the suspension will remain in effect pending further action by the court.

Attempts by the Johnson City Press to contact Lawson by phone on Thursday were unsuccessful.

An affidavit filed in support of the suspension says the complaint of misconduct was filed in March by a woman who was to receive $65,000 in settlement of her divorce.

According to the affidavit and supporting documents filed with the court, the woman’s husband borrowed money to pay her for her interest in their marital home in October and gave Lawson a check for the $65,000, which Lawson was to hold in trust until the divorce became final.

The affidavit states that Lawson endorsed the check and deposited the money in his trust account in December but failed to bring the money to court when the divorce was finalized on March 8.

On March 11 and 12, the woman attempted to schedule an appointment with Lawson but Lawson told her he was in court and could not meet her. Subsequent attempts to contact Lawson by phone made by the woman, by the board’s investigating counsel and by the Johnson City Press were unsuccessful due the disconnection of his office phone and the inability to leave a message on his cell phone.

Lawson also failed to respond to a letter mailed to him by the board in early May that contained a copy of the complaint of misconduct. 

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