Former BigLaw partner gets suspension over side law practice
A former Crowell & Moring partner has been suspended in New York for running a side law practice in violation of his partnership agreement and for underreporting the side income to tax authorities. Image from Shutterstock.
A former Crowell & Moring partner has been suspended in New York for running a side law practice in violation of his partnership agreement and for underreporting the side income to tax authorities.
The Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court suspended lawyer Matthew Alexander Melville for six months and required him to comply with business and mental health monitoring for two years, Reuters reports in a story noted by Above the Law.
The Legal Profession Blog published highlights from the Jan. 4 opinion.
The decision said Melville was a partner at “a multinational law firm in San Francisco.” Reuters identified the firm as Crowell & Moring and published a Crowell statement.
“We promptly terminated Matt Melville’s partnership with the firm in 2021 when we learned that he had engaged in conduct in violation of the firm’s practices and policies and bar rules,” Crowell said.
There was no “adverse impact on our clients,” the firm said.
Melville had joined Crowell from the Atrium legal services company in April 2020, where he worked as a co-managing partner before its closing.
Melville and the New York Attorney Grievance Committee had jointly sought the six-month suspension. According to stipulated facts in the case, Melville billed firm clients separately for work that he solely performed and also earned money for work that he performed for nonclients of the firm. The partnership agreement said all compensation received by any lawyer for any professional activities are considered Crowell earnings.
In 2020 and 2021, Melville earned $361,467 from his side practice, according to the stipulated facts.
He also “inadvertently reported only a portion of his taxable income for fiscal years 2020 and 2021,” according to the stipulation. He later filed amended tax returns for those years.
Melville acknowledged violating ethics rules banning dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation and banning conduct that adversely reflects on fitness to practice law.
Crowell discovered the side work after a client received invoices from the firm, as well as from Melville.
Melville told Reuters that he plans to continue to practice law in California, where he has his own firm. Melville did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal voicemail left early this morning.
Crowell had filed disciplinary complaints against Melville in New York and California, but the State Bar of California declined to take action. The State Bar of California has posted information about the New York suspension on the attorney profile page for Melville.