The fourth time was not the charm for a would-be Louisiana lawyer who hoped to overcome a misstep she made in law school in 1995.
The Louisiana Supreme Court on April 9 denied Marcia Denise Jordan’s application for admission to the bar for the fourth time, citing evidence that she embezzled from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law’s Student Bar Association while serving as its president, and that she later engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
The court said it was permanently shutting the doorway to the profession to Jordan. “Given the egregious nature of petitioner’s wrongdoing, as well as a pattern of conduct occurring over many years, we can conceive of no circumstances under which we would ever grant her admission to the practice of law in the state,” the court said in an unsigned opinion.
Jordan — who, according to the court, has repaid the student organization — could not be reached for comment.
According to the opinion, she enrolled at Loyola in 1993 and served as the president of the student organization during the 1995-96 academic year. She graduated in May 1996 and passed the Louisiana bar exam, but the law school rescinded her dean’s certificate — the document that proves she graduated — the day before the admissions ceremony amid allegations of embezzlement.
Following an investigation, a court-appointed commissioner concluded that Jordan used student funds for her own personal purposes and that she had destroyed related financial records once the law school launched an investigation, the court wrote. The court denied her first application for admission in 1999.
Jordan reapplied in 2000, but the court again refused her. She applied for a third time in 2004, arguing that she had “demonstrated a significant change in circumstances since our prior decisions denying admission,” the court wrote. By that time, she had repaid the money and the law school had reissued her dean’s certificate, the court said.
The court turned the matter over the state bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, and, following another investigation, a commissioner recommended that Jordan be admitted. However, the Committee on Bar Admissions objected.
During oral arguments before the court at that time, an allegation emerged that Jordan had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and improperly shared fees with Richard Garrett, a New Orleans attorney for whom Jordan was working as a legal assistant, the court wrote. The court ordered another investigation, and the commissioner issued a new recommendation that Jordan be refused admission. (Garrett was eventually disbarred for allowing Jordan to represent clients and sharing fees with her, the court said.) The court denied Jordan’s application for the third time in 2009.
In its latest ruling, the court concluded that Jordan had failed to demonstrate “good moral character and fitness to practice law.”
“Standing alone, the unauthorized practice of law conclusively demonstrates that petitioner lacks the moral fitness to be admitted to the bar,” the court wrote. “The improper fee-sharing and the conduct arising out of the incident at the law school simply serve to underscore the conclusion that petitioner possesses serious and fundamental character flaws.”
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