Florida Record

Saturday, December 7, 2019

West Palm Beach to be disbarred over allegations regarding partnership with non-attorney

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Oct 1, 2019

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TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — West Palm Beach attorney Gary Louis Pickett faces disbarment following a Sept. 6 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations involving his partnership with a non-attorney, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Pickett entered into a partnership with a non-lawyer to provide foreclosure defense legal services," the state bar said in its Sept. 26 announcement of the discipline and the court's order. "He split legal fees with nonlawyers, failed to properly supervise the lawyers and nonlawyers working in the business and assisted in the unlicensed practice of law."

Pickett also failed to competently and diligently represent clients and "to adequately communicate with them," the announcement said. "He charged an excessive fee and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty and bad faith."

In its unanimous two-page order, the Supreme Court approved in its entirety the referee's report filed in the matter before ordering Pickett's disbarment. The court also ordered Picket to pay at total of $11,500 to two clients in restitution to two clients and a little more than $23,197 in costs.  

Pickett's disbarment will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order. Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Pickett's disbarment.

Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

Pickett was admitted to the bar in Florida on July 24, 1984, according to his profile at the state bar website. Picket had no prior history of discipline in Florida, according to the referee's report.

Allegations against Pickett arise from complaints filed by the two clients with the state bar, according to the referee's report. The clients each sought out legal services from Picket via "a business arrangement he had with a nonlawyer," the referees report said.

"It is uncontroverted that [Pickett] never personally communicated with them and missed important matters during the representation," the referee's report said.

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