The Missouri Supreme Court has suspended the law license of the former director of the entrepreneurship and intellectual property clinic at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law for at least three years.
David R. Deal practiced law at the clinic for 10 years while his law license was suspended in Missouri, and he failed to inform the law school or client of his disciplinary status, according to court filings by the state Supreme Court’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel. That amounted to professional misconduct, the court ruled June 9 while suspending Deal’s license yet again. He will be eligible to reapply for reinstatement after three years.
Deal no longer works at the law school, according to a statement issued by law Dean Nancy Staudt.
“We are deeply disappointed that this individual actively misrepresented the status of his law license to us,” Staudt said. “Upon discovery of this deceit, we immediately reported this individual to the bar.”
Attempts to reach Deal Friday were unsuccessful.
It’s the second time in a month that law school clinic worker has run afoul of the law. Indiana prosecutors filed embezzlement charges against the former administrator of a University of Notre Dame Law School’s legal clinic on May 26. Jennifer Ihns, who is not a lawyer, stands accused of stealing nearly $200,000 from the clinic over the course of seven years.
The chief disciplinary council in Missouri found that Deal’s deception did not cause serious injury to any clients and that he did not benefit from the lie beyond retaining his job at the law school, hence it did not recommend disbarment.
“Respondent deceived his employer, Washington University, by representing over a 10-year period that that he was a licensed attorney supervisor for a law school clinic when in fact he was not licensed,” reads the chief disciplinary council’s report.
Deal earned his law degree at the University of Missouri School of Law and was an associate at Thompson Coburn before working as a patent examiner in the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, according to an announcement of his hiring at the law school.
The law school hired Deal in 2004 as the administrative director of its intellectual property and business formation clinic, now the entrepreneurship and intellectual property clinic. Students in that clinic provide business and transactional legal advice to emerging nonprofits and businesses.
Deal was licensed to practice law in Missouri in 1996, but his license was suspended in 2006 after he failed to fulfill continuing legal education requirements. His license was again suspended in 2012 for lapsed annual bar enrollment fees, according to the chief disciplinary council.
Deal did not reply to the chief disciplinary council’s repeated requests for an answer to the misconduct charge levied against him, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Contact Karen Sloan at KSloan@alm.com