Attorney Grievance v. Kreamer

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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Barbara Osborn Kreamer No. AG 24, September Term, 2004 ATTORN EY DISCIPLINE Our goal in matters of attorney discipline is to protect the public and the public s confidence in the legal profession rather than to punish the attor ney. ATTORN EY DISCIPLINE AP PROPRIATE SA NCTIONS A ppropriate sanction for attorney misco nduct inclu ding failure to comm unicate w ith the client an d failure to diligently represe nt a client is inde finite suspen sion with th e right to reap ply after six months, considering the respondent s prior disciplinary problems. In the Circu it Court for B altimore C ounty Case No. AG 24 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND Misc. Docket AG No. 24 September Term, 2004 ____________________________________ ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND v. BARBARA OSBORN KREAM ER ____________________________________ Bell, C.J. Raker Wilner Cathell Harrell Battaglia Greene, JJ. ____________________________________ Opinion by Greene, J. ____________________________________ Filed: June 21, 2005 The Attorney Grievance Commission, acting through B ar Coun sel, filed a petition for disciplinary action a gainst B arbara O sborn K reame r (respo ndent) . Bar Counsel charged Ms. Kreamer with violating several Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, alleging that she failed to file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce for a client, as she had allegedly promised to do, and that she continua lly failed to respond to the client s phone calls and e-mails. Bar Counsel also alleged that Ms. Kreamer failed to provide the client s new attorney with the client s file in a timely manner and that she failed to respond to the Attorney Grievance Comm ission s letters requesting a written response to the client s complaint. Finally, Bar Counsel alleged that Ms. Kreamer took funds from the client s retainer that she had not yet earned . The petition alleged that Ms. K reamer violated Ru le 1.1 (Competen ce),1 Rule 1.3 1 Rule 1.1 provides: A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. (Diligence), 2 Rule 1.4 (Communication), 3 Rule 1.15 (Safek eeping Property), 4 Rule 1.16 2 Rule 1.3 provides: A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. 3 Rule 1.4 provides: (a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. (b) A law yer shall explain a matter to the extent reaso nably necessa ry to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. 4 Rule 1.15 provides: (a) A lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer s own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate account maintained pursuant to Title 16, Chapter 600 of the Maryland Rules. Other proper ty shall be id entified as such and ap propria tely safeg uarded . Complete records of such account funds and of other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for a period of five years after termination of the representation. (b)Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an i nterest, a lawyer sh all prom ptly notify th e client o r third pe rson. Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds o r other prop erty that the client or th ird person is e ntitled to receive an d, upon req uest by the client o r third person , shall promp tly rend er a f ull ac counting reg arding su ch prope rty. (c) When in the course of representation a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until there is an accounting and seve rance of th eir interests. If a d ispute arises c oncerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved. 2 (Declining or Terminating R epresentation), 5 Rule 8.1 (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 6 and Rule 8.4 (M isconduct). 7 Bar Counsel also alleged that Ms. Kreamer violated 5 Rule 1.16 provides: (a) Except as stated in parag raph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if: (1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; (2) the lawyer s physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer s ability to represent the client; or (3) the lawyer is discharged. (b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client, or if: (1) the client pers ists in a course of action involving the lawyer s services that the lawyer rea sonably believ es is criminal o r fraudulen t; (2) the client has used the lawyer s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud; (3) a client insists upon pursuing an objective that the lawyer considers repugnant or imprudent; (4) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled; (5) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or (6) other good cause for withdrawal exists. (c) When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation. (d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law. 6 Rule 8.1 provides: (continued...) 3 Rule 16-609 (Prohibited Transactions)8 and Md. Code (1989, 2004 Repl. Vol.), § 10-306 of 6 (...continued) An app licant for adm ission or reins tatement to th e bar, or a law yer in connection with a bar admission application or in connection with a disciplinary ma tter, shall not: (a) knowingly make a false statement or material fact; or (b) fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension known by the person to have arisen in the matter, or knowingly fail to respond to a lawful d ema nd for inform ation from an ad miss ions or disciplinar y auth ority, except that this Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6. 7 Rule 8.4 provides: It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (a) violate or a ttempt to viola te the Rules of Profe ssional Co nduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (b) c omm it a cr imin al act that refle cts adversely o n the lawyer s h onesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; or (f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law. (Amended Dec. 10, 1996, e ffectiv e July 1, 19 97.) 8 Rule 16-609 provides: An attorney or law firm may not borrow or pledge any funds required by these Rules to be deposited in an attorney trust account, obtain any remuneration from the financial institution for depositing any funds in the account, or use any funds for any unauthorized purpose. An instrument drawn o n an attorne y trust account m ay not be draw n payable to ca sh or to bearer. 4 the Business Oc cupations and Pro fessions Article (Misuse of Trust Mo ney).9 Pursuant to Maryland Rule 16-752, we referred the matter to Judge Susan Souder of the Circuit Co urt for Baltim ore Cou nty to make f indings of fact and co nclusions of law. Following an evidentiary hearing on December 21, 2004, Judge Souder found that Ms. Kreamer violated MRPC Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 8.1, 1.15, Md. Rule 16-609, and § 10-306 of the Business and Occupations Article of the Maryland Code. Respondent and petitioner filed exceptions. I. Hearing Judge s Opinion Judge Souder made the following factual findings: On February 25, 2002 , Bencha mas D. S poray ( Client ) m et with Respondent to obtain legal advice regarding her separation from her husband, which occurred on January 16, 2002. The Client signed a Retainer/Engagement Agreement ( Agreement ) on March 8, 2002. In the Agreement, the Client agreed to have Respondent represent the Client and perform all necessary legal services in connection with representation in the matter of marital separation and divorce. Furthermore, the Client was to pay Respondent a retainer of two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), which included a two hundred seventy dollar ($270.00) non-refundable engagement fee. The Client agreed to pay Respo ndent a t an hou rly rate of o ne hun dred th irty five do llars ($1 35.00) . _________________ The C lient vac ated the marital h ome w ithout ta king an y of her b elongin gs. 1 9 Section 10-306 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article provides: A lawyer may not use trust money for any purpose other than the purpose for which the trust mo ney is entrusted to the lawyer. 5 The Client subm itted four ch ecks to Re sponden t for payment of her representation. On Ma rch 8, 2002, the Client paid two thousand d ollars ($2,000.00). On March 15, 2002, the Client paid ten dollars ($10.00). Add ition ally, the Client paid five hun dred dollars ($500.00) on April 17, 2002. Fina lly, on May 5, 2002, the Client paid two thousand dollars ($2,000.00). Altoge ther, the c lient paid $4,510 . The Client s husband filed a Complaint for Limited Divorce and Other Relief in the Circuit Court for Harford County on Marc h 13, 20 02. On Ap ril 12, 2002, the C lient, through Respondent, filed an A nswer and C ounterComplaint for Absolute Divorce.2 Respon dent repres ented the C lient at a protective order hearing in March 2002, in which the Client sought protection from her husband, and to retrieve her belongings from the marital home. An ex parte Order was granted; and a Consent Ord er was entered in Apr il. A provision of the Consent Order was that the Client s husband was not to contac t her. In May 2002, the Client met with Respondent to discuss how the case would proceed. T he Client w rote out her reasons for seeking the divorce, and the Respondent wrote her own notes in the margins of the Client s notes. The Respondent misplaced these notes until the investigation of these charges was underw ay and neve r divulged th at they were lo st to the Clien t. After the May 20 02 meeting, other than responding to discovery propounded by the Client s husband, no action took place in the Client s divorce matter until January 2003. In January 2003, the Client met with the Respondent and indicated that she wanted to proceed with the divorce action, as it had been twelve months since she had separated from her husband. Respondent told the Client that she would file for an absolute divorce based on a mutual and voluntary separation on her behalf. The Client e-mailed Respondent on March 28, 2003 and May 14, 2003 seeking an update on the status of her divorce case. Respondent did not respond to either e-mail. On June 23, 2003, the Client telephoned Respondent seeking an up-date on her case. Respondent failed to return the Client s phone 2 The Counter-Complaint for Absolute Divorce failed to allege a ground upon which an absolute divorce can be granted. Nor was a Financial Statement submitted with the Answ er and Counter-Complaint as required by the Md. Rules. 6 call. On July 1, 2003 the Client again [calle d] Respo ndent seek ing an upd ate of her case, and stated that she was disappointed with Respondent for her procrastination and for ignoring the Client. Respondent called the Client on July 3, 2003 and promised that she would give an update by July 7, 2003. The Respondent failed to respond by July 7, 2003 as promised. Responden t s failures regarding communication with the Client continued from July 9, 2003 through August 11, 2003. During that time the Client telephoned Respondent at least eight times. Of those eight telephone contacts the Client left four mes sages. Res ponden t failed to respond to any of the messages. Furthermore, on several occasions Respondent indicated to the Client that she was busy with another client and that she would get back to the Client. Respondent failed to do so. Additionally, on one occasion, Respondent answered the call but indicated that she was on her w ay to court and would have to get back to the Client. Again, Respondent failed to do so. Sub sequ ently, on Aug ust 11, 200 3 the Clien t filed a com plaint against Respondent with the Attorney Grieva nce Comm ission of Maryland ( Petitioner ). Respondent testified that from January 17, 2003 through July 29, 2003 she was plan ning a settlem ent dema nd to be subm itted to opposing counsel on behalf of the Clien t.3 There is no physical evidence of Respondent s progress on the case other than her initial responses to opposing counsel s discovery requests. Furtherm ore, Respo ndent nev er propou nded disc overy reques ts to the opposing party. There w as no activity concerning the C lient s file by Respondent in 2003. To the extent Respondent was planning, it was apparently a cerebral exercise undertaken without the benefit of information concerning the opposing party s current financial information. Indeed, Respondent never determined whether the opposing party was available for the purpose of settlement discussions. At the January 2003 meeting, the Client advised Respondent that her husband, a member of the ______________________ 3 To exp lain her failure to move th e case, Re sponden t asserts that the Clien t preferred to settle rather than litigate. In that regard, however, the Client was not unlike most clients. 7 military reserves, may be called up. Whether Client s husband s unit had been activated or would be activated in the future is irrelevant. Respondent made no effort to determine the Client s husband s status. She did not inquire of husband s counsel; she filed no discovery req uests in the pending litigation; nor did she ever request an absolute divorce on behalf of the client based on a mutual and vo luntary se paration . Respondent admits that she was unaware of Client s husba nd s sta tus. Responden t s counsel arg ues that Re sponden t believed C lient s husband was in active military service overseas, and unavailable for the case to proceed. If that were true, Responden t s failure to advise her client that the case could not proceed while her husband was on active duty overseas is inexplic able. On September 3, 2003 the Client retained Christopher R. Van Roden, Esq. ( Van Ro den ) to represent her in her divorce proceedings. Van Roden sent a letter dated September 5, 2003 to the Respondent advising that he had been retained to re present the C lient and ask ing the Re sponden t to turn over to the Client her case file. Van Roden also asked Respondent for a detailed itemization of all work Respondent performed for the Client since she was retained, and a refund of any unused portion of Client s retainer. On September 22, 2003 the Respondent filed a Motion to Strike Appearance. Howeve r, the Respondent failed to turn over the Client s file to Van Roden until February 13, 2004, the date of the Responden t s Attorney Grievance Commission s Peer Review Meeting. No explanation for the failure to respond promptly to Van Roden was proffered. Respondent s counsel suggested that Van Roden would have reviewed the Court s file in any case, and, therefore there was no prejudice to the Client by Responden t s failure to respond to Van Roden. No prejudice to the Client s case as a result of Responden t s delay was shown; Client did have to pay new counsel to review the Court file. The Respondent failed to properly maintain her finances with respect to the Client s case. On March 15, 2002, the Respondent took $99.50 more than that to which she was entitled from the Client s retainer when she wrote Check 1329 to herself in the amount of $257.00. Additionally, Respondent took $47.19 from the Client s retainer when she wrote Check 1364 in the amount of $1,550.00 on June 11, 2002 to herself. Respondent admits that her records showed a $47.19 c redit due to 8 Client. All funds due to the Client were eventually paid to the Client, and there is no cla im R espo ndent ow es the Cli ent m oney. Respondent explained her failures a s resulting from a campaign for elective office in the Fall of 2002, her decertification by the Client Security Trust Fund for a time, time spent correcting the foregoing problem, and the need to train a new secretary who required constant instruction. These excuses did not constitute valid defenses. Petitioner mailed letters to Respondent on three occasions4 requesting a written response to the com plaint filed w ith Petitioner s office on August 11, 2003. On all three occasions Respondent failed to s ubmit a resp onse to Petitioner s request. Furthermore, Respondent did not file an Answer to the Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action until October 12 , 2004. The untimely Answer was only accepted as Petitioner did no t object to the Court vacating its prior Order of Default against Respondent. Eventuall y, Respondent met with Petitioner s Investigator concerning the matter on November 17, 2003. The Honorable William O. Carr, Administrative Judge fo r the Circuit Court of Harford County, testified that he had known Respondent since elementary school. In the six months prior to the hearing, in his opinion, Respondent had evolv ed into a "go od proble m solver." P rior to that time he observed that she had difficulty in focusing on the issues and could be "proble matic." Reverend Clyde Allen Spicer testified to Responden t s good character. Judge Souder made the following conclusions of law. Petitioner alleges that Respondent violated the following Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.1 (Competence), 1 .3 (Dilig ence), 1 .4 (Commu nication), 1.15 (Safekeeping property), 1.16 (Declining or terminating 4 Petitioner s letters to Respondent were dated August 28, 2003, September 8, 2003, and October 15, 2003. 9 representation), 8.1 (Bar A d m i s s i o n and Disciplinary M atters), an d 8.4 (Misconduct). Additionally, Petitioner alleges that Respondent violated Maryland Rule 6-609 (Prohibited transactions) and Md. Code Ann., Business Occupations an d Professions, § 10-3 06 (Misuse of trust money). Respondent was not d iligent in her rep resentation o f Client in violation of Ru le 1.3. Respondent took no action to file an absolute divorce on behalf of Client based on a mutual and voluntary separation when requested to do so in January 2003. At no time in 2002/2003 did Respondent propound discovery that might have assisted her in preparing ( as oppose d to planning ) a settlement demand. Nor did Respondent engage in any settlement d iscussions w ith opposin g counse l. Respondent failed to respond meaningfully to numerous communications from Client in violation of Rule 1.4. Respo ndent failed to provide the file or otherwise commu nicate with Client s successor counsel, Mr. Van Roden, for ma ny mont hs in vio lation of Rule 1 .16. Bar Counsel states that the failure to communicate and the lack of diligence demonstrate that Respondent is not a competent attorney as required by Rule 1.1. This Court did not find persuasive Bar Cou nsel s argument in this case that violations of Rules 1.3 and 1.4 auto matically constitute a violation of Rule 1.1. Respondent violated R ule 8.1 by failing to respond to Petitioner s requests seeking a response to the Client s c omplaint. Respondent s defense that she became paralyzed with fear when she received such requests from Bar Counse l and is unable to act is unacceptable. Respondent s assertion that illness prevented her from timely responding to the Petition herein was also unpersuasive in light of the fact that she worked on other Client matters and appeared in Court during the illness. Respondent s apology for her failure to respo nd in th e instan t case w as acce pted. While Responden t s sloppy book keeping p ractices resulte d in violations of the law 1.15, 16-609 and 10-306, these were merely technical violations, not in large amounts, that more organized financial record keeping would obviate. Petitioner s argument that the aforesaid accounting violations also co nstitute a violatio n of R ule 8.4 w as unp ersuasiv e in this c ase. 10 II. Standard of Review As stated in Attorney G riev. Com m n v. D avis, 375 Md. 131, 825 A.2d 430 (2003), [t]his Court exercises original jurisdiction over attorney discipline proceedings. We conduct an independent review of the record, accepting the hearing judge s findings of fact unless clearly erroneou s. We w ill not disturb the factual findings of the hearing judge if they are based on clear and convincing evidence. Our review of the hearing judge s conclusions of law is de novo. Davis, 375 Md. at 157-58, 825 A.2d at 445-46 (citations omitted). Moreover, Md. Rule 16757 (b) states: The petitioner has the burden of proving the averments of the petition by clear and c onvincing evidence . A respon dent who asserts an affirmative defense or a matter of mitigation or extenuation has the burden of proving the defense or matter by a prepo nderan ce of th e evide nce. III. Exceptions Ms. Kreamer filed ten exceptions to Judge Soude r s factual findings and conclusions of law. In particular, Ms. Kreamer excepted to the finding that the Counter-Complaint for Absolute Divorce failed to allege a groun d upon which an abso lute divo rce can be gran ted, noting that the Answer and Counterclaim that she filed alleged facts that would constitute a ground for divorce under § 7-103 (a) (7) and (8) of the Family Law Article.10 The Answer 10 Sections 7-103 (a) (7) and (8) states: The court may decree an absolute divorce on the following grounds: . . . (7) cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonab le expectatio n of recon ciliation; or (8) ex cessively (continued...) 11 and Cou nterclaim inclu ded the statem ent th at M s. Sp oray, avers that she left the home to regain her health and wellbeing after being subjected to verbal and emotional abuse over the course of the marriage, b eing subjec ted to extremely viole nt acts against her by the Plaintiff on numerous occasions, being subjected to intimidation by guns, swords and other weapons being disp layed in every room of the house, demoralized by bullet holes remaining in the ceiling for over a year from the Plaintiff/Counter-Def endant s having discharged his firea rms . . . he was driving the automobile in which she was a passeng er in a dangerous manner so that her head was forced into the dashboard . . . there is no reasonable hope or expectation of reconciliation between the parties. That paragraph wa s incorpora ted by referen ce into the se ction of the pleading e ntitled Counterclaim for Absolute Divorce and Other Relief. We disagree with the hearing judge s finding that Ms. Kreamer failed to allege a ground upon which an absolute divorce can be gran ted. The fact that the pleading did not contain the phrase cruelty of treatm ent or ex cessively viciou s conduc t does not change the import of th e counterc laim. The p leading cer tainly alleged fac ts that, if proven, w ould 10 (...continued) vicious con duct towa rd the com plaining pa rty or a minor ch ild of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reco nciliation . Md. Code (1999, 2004 Repl. Vol.), § 7-103 (a) (7) & (8) of the Family Law Article. The legislature m ade cruelty and excessively vic ious cond uct groun ds for abso lute divorce in 1998. See Md. Code (1984, 1999 Repl. Vol.), § 7-103 (a)(7) & (8) of the Family Law Article. Prior to 1998, cruelty of treatment and excessively vicious conduct were grounds for limit ed divo rce. See Md. Code (1984, 1991 Repl. Vol.), § 7-102 (a) (1) & (2) of the Family L aw A rticle. 12 have supported the grant of an absolu te divorce on the grounds of cruelty of treatment. 11 As stated in Md. Rule 2-203 (b), [e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleadings are required. A pleading shall contain only such statements of fact as may be necessary to show the pleader s entitlement to relief or ground of def ense . . . . M s. Krea mer s f irst exce ption is s ustaine d. Ms. Kreamer next contends that the hearing judge w rongly found that [i]n Janu ary 2003 . . . Respon dent told the Client that she would file for an absolute divorce based on a mutual and voluntary separation on her behalf. Ms. Kreamer argues that she could not have filed for a divorce on those grounds because she knew that there never was a mutual and voluntary separation agreement reached between her client and the client s husband.12 Upon review of the testim ony before th e court, it is clear (a nd the Petitio ner admits) that Ms. 11 As stated in Scheinin v. Scheinin, 200 M d. 282, 8 9 A.2d 609 (1 951), cruelty as a cause for divorce includ es any conduct on the p art of the hus band or w ife which is calculated to seriously impa ir the hea lth or pe rmane ntly destro y the hap piness o f the oth er. Thus any misconduct of a husband that endangers, or creates a reasonable apprehe nsion that it will endanger, the w ife s safety or health to a degree rendering it p hysically or mentally impracticable for her to properly discharge the marital duties constitutes cruelty within the meaning of the divorce statute. Scheinin, 200 Md. at 289-90, 89 A.2d at 612. Being subjected to extremely violent acts and intim idation by gun s, swords, a nd other w eapons qualifies as c ruelty of treatme nt. 12 In fact, Ms. Sporay testified at the hearing before Judge Souder that she left the marital home in January of 2002 because she felt unsafe and because her husband had physically th reatene d her. 13 Sporay did not actually state that she had asked Ms. Kreamer to file for an absolute divorce based on a mutual and voluntary separation. Ms. Sporay testified that she had a conversation with Ms. Kreamer on January 16 or 17, 2003, and that she told her that my separation have come to meet the d eadline [sic] , 12-mon th separa tion. Um, I wou ld like her to go forwa rd with my divorce process. Ms. Sporay also testified that Ms. Kreamer told her that she would work o n it, and that sh e would file for absolute divorce. No one testified that Ms. Kreamer said that she would file for an absolute divorce based on a mutual and voluntary separation. In fact, as has already been discussed, Ms. Kreamer had already filed for an Absolute Divorce on other grounds in March, 2002, when she filed the Answer to Complaint for Limited Divorce and Other Relief and Counterclaim for Absolute Divorce. Ms. Kream er s second exception is overruled in part and sustained in part. Insofar as the hearing judge found that Ms. Kreamer promised to file for an absolute divorce, Ms. Kreamer s second exception is overruled. The hearing judge was free to believe Ms. Sporay s testimony that M s. Kream er promise d to file for a n absolute d ivorce after the meeting with the client in January 2003.13 As to the ground for divorce, however, Ms. Kreamer s exception is sustained. T here is no ev idence in th e record tha t Ms. Kre amer said she would file on the ground of mutual and voluntary separation. It appears from the 13 We recognize that Ms. Kreamer had already filed for absolute divorce on the grounds of cruelty of treatment and excessively vicious conduct when she filed the answer and counterclaim for divorce in April of 2002. Nonetheless, the complaint against Ms. Kreamer is for not moving the divorce case forward after January 2003, when the client asked her to complete the divorce. 14 hearing judge s factual findings that the p urpose fo r mentionin g the failure to file was to showcase Ms. Kreamer s continued failure to communicate with Ms. Sporay about the status of her divorce and the failure to do something to move the divorce forward. The particular ground for divorce has nothing to do with those failures. Thus, in our view, the hearing judge s error is in signific ant. Ms. Kre amer s third exception is to the hearing judge s finding that Responden t s failures regarding c ommu nication w ith the Client continue from July 9, 2003 through August 11, 2003. Ms. Sporay testified that Ms. Kreamer called her on July 29 and told her that she had been busy with another case and didn t have time for my case that m uch, but sh e will try to work on it. Get a copy mailed to my attention by the following week. Ms. Kreamer testified that t he co nversation on Jul y 29 was a substantive conversation that was for the purpose of moving the case forward. In addition, Bar Counsel submitted Ms. Kreamer s notes from that conversation, as Plaintiff s Exhibit 7. The notes appear to reflect a substantive conversation, making mention of the credit and debt situation of the parties , alimony, and th e husban d s retiremen t account, among other things. Nonetheless, the hearing judge found that Respondent s failures regarding communication with the Client continued from July 9, 2003 through August 11, 2003. Judge Souder also noted that [d]uring that time the Client telephoned Respondent at least eight times. Of those eight telephone contacts the Client left four messages. Respondent failed to respond to any of the messages. In view of those facts, we cannot say 15 that the hearing judge erred by finding that the communication failures continued during the time mentione d, even if one of the phone calls could be described as substantive. Moreover, Judge Souder was free to believe Ms. Sporay s testim ony about the July 29 call (that it was not subs tanti ve) a nd to disb eliev e Ms. Kr eam er s n otes and testim ony. The chancellor is free to disrega rd evid ence th at she co nsiders not cred ible. Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Vanderlinde, 364 Md. 376, 385, 773 A.2d 463, 468 (2000). Respondent s third exception is overru led. Ms. Kreamer also excepts to the hearing judge s finding that [t]here was no activity concerning the Client s f ile by Respon dent in 200 3 becau se [i]t is und isputed th at Respondent met with Sporay on January 17, 2003 and also that Respondent and Sporay had a conversation conce rning Sporay s case on July 29, 2003. Respondent also argues that she had records . . . that were the result of discovery during that time, that there was an e-mail exchange on May 14, 2003, and several non-substantive telephone contacts in e arly July 2003, and that she was planning the elements of a settlement demand which included the items that were narrated on the notes of July 29. First, it was not error for Judge Souder to refuse to consider the e-mails and several phone contacts as activity on the client s case.14 Those n on-substan tive contacts d id 14 As noted by Judge Souder: The Client e-mailed Respondent on March 28, 2003 and May 14, 2003 seeking an update on the status of her divorce case. Respondent did not respond to either e-mail. On June 23, 2003, the Client telephoned Respondent seeking an update on her case. Respondent failed to return the (continued...) 16 nothing to propel Ms. Spo ray s divorce forward. Seco nd, the fact that Ms. K reamer had records . . . that were the result of disc overy during the time in qu estion does nothing to prove that she did anything with that discovery durin g that time or that she attem pted to obtain any new discovery during that time. In fact, Ms. Kreamer testified that she did not file or propound interrogatories or request for production of documents between January and July of 2003. She also testified that the most recent financial information that she had was from March of 2002. Third, Judge So uder wa s free to disb elieve (and apparently did disbelieve) Ms. Kreamer s testimony that she was planning a settlement demand from January throu gh July of 20 03. She sp ecifically foun d that, [t]here is no physical evidence of Respondent s progress on the case other than her initial responses to opposing c ounsel s discovery requests. Furthermore, Respondent never propounded discovery requests to the oppo sing party. The re was no activity concerning the Client s file by Respondent in 2003. To the extent Re sponden t was plan ning, it wa s apparen tly a cerebral exercise undertaken without the benefit of information concerning the opposing party s current financial information. Ms. Kreamer admitted that she did not present a settlement demand after January 17, 2003. Fourth, and finally, even though everyone agrees that Ms. Kreamer and Ms. Sporay had a meeting in January of 2003, we cannot say it was clearly erro neous fo r the hearing judge to 14 (...continued) Client s phone call. On July 1, 2003 the Client again [called] Respondent seeking an update of her case, and stated that she was disappointed with Respondent for her procrastination and for ignoring the Client. Respondent called the Client on July 3, 2003 and promised that she would give an update by July 7, 2003. The Respondent failed to respond by July 7, 2003 as promised. 17 find that no activity ha d taken pla ce on M s. Sporay s file in 2003, es pecially in view of Ms. Sporay s testimony that the meeting in Janua ry consisted solely of Ms. Sporay telling Ms. Kreamer that she wanted her case to be moved forward and Ms. Kreamer saying that she would work on the c ase. Saying that she would work on the case is different th an actually working on the case . While the m eeting ma y qualify technica lly as activity in the case, it is clear from Judge Souder s discussion that the kind of activity needed to move the case forward was completely lacking between January 2003 and the end of Ms. Krea mer s representation of Ms. Sporay. We think that is the kind of inactivity that was considered. Ms. K reame r s four th exce ption is o verrule d. Ms. K reame r next ex cepts to the find ing that, [a]t the January 2003 meeting, the Client advised Respondent that her husband, a member of the military reserves, may be called up, Whether Client s husband s unit had been activated or would be activated in the future is irrelevant. Respondent made no effort to determine the Client s husband s status. . . . Respondent admits that she was u naware of C lient s husband s status. Ms. Kream er points to Ms. Sporay s testimony and n otes that, while discussing defe ndant s Exhibit 4 (an e-mail dated March 18, 2002 fro m Ms. S poray to M s. Kream er in which Ms. Sporay wrote [M r. Sporay] was on active duty in Kosovo from 02/01 - 08/01 . . . ), Ms. Sporay agreed that at the time she first saw Ms. Kreamer her husband was still in the active reserve. Ms. Kreamer also relies on Plaintiff s E xhibit 3 (her notes of the January 17, 2003 meeting), in which she wrote, he may be called up. 18 The fact that Ms. Kreamer knew that Ms. Sporay s husband was on active d uty in 2001 and that he may be called up in 2003 does not mean that Ms. Kreamer was aware of Ms. Sporay s husband s current status, the only status that was relevant to the question of how to proceed with the divo rce. In fact, Ms. Kreamer testified that she thought the husband may have been on active duty in January 2003, but that she did not know for sure if he was. She also admitted that she did not tell Ms. Sporay at the January meeting that they could not proceed with the divorce if her husband had been on active duty at the time.15 In 15 The colloquy on this matter is as follows: Q. . . . Was there a ny way that you co uld have, u m, told her that you were proceeding with the case after January 17th , 03 knowing that . . . the defendant in the counter-complaint was on active duty with the milit ary? A. No, I couldn t have told her that. And really the substance , what I w ould say to M rs. Sporay, I wo uld describe as palliative, to try to help her know that I was in her corner, you know, concerned about how this was going to co me out. I kn ew that I co uld not mo ve this case fo rward for her . Q. Why didn t you tell her, look, w e can t do a nything in this case? A. Well Q. You know he is on active duty, why didn t you tell her that? A. I should ha ve said som ething mo re definite ab out, we re at a standstill here. But she was very, very upset .... Just before that testimon y, however, M s. Kream er testified that sh e was sur e she wo uld have had a discussion with Ms. Sporay about the effect of the husband being on active duty because that is a big issue practicing law in Aberdeen and that she would have informed the client that she could not divorce him while he is on active duty. Apparently, the hearing judge believed Ms. Kreamer s statement that she did not tell her (continued...) 19 view of that testimony, we cannot say the finding on the matter was clearly erroneous. Ms. Kreamer s fifth exception is overruled.16 Ms. Kreamer also excepts to the finding that Client did have to pay new counsel to review the Co urt file. 17 Ms. Kreamer admits and Mr. Van Roden testified that he reviewed the Court file and charged Ms. Sporay to do so. Pointing out that the new attorney nec essa rily, in the exercise of prudence, would review the court file when taking over represe ntation, does nothing to change the fact that Ms. Sporay would never have incurred the additional expense if Ms. Kreamer had properly represented her and moved her divorce forward. Ms. Kreamer s sixth exception is overruled. 15 (...continued) client about the problems with proceeding with the divorce if her husband was on active duty. 16 In support of this exception, Ms. Kreamer also notes that Ms. Sporay s new attorney, Mr. Van Roden, filed a complaint for absolute divorce on December 20, 2003, and that Mr. Spo ray s attorney then filed a Motion to Stay Proce edings because M r. Sporay was on ac tive duty in Iraq at the time. Mr. Van Roden did no t know wh en Mr. Sporay had gone on active duty. The fact that Mr. Sporay was on active duty at the time the new lawyer attempted to move the case forward does nothing to discredit the finding that Ms. K reamer did not know what M r. Sporay s status was and that she did n othing to determine it during her re presentation of Ms. S poray. The h earing judg e was fre e to disbelieve M s. Kream er s testimon y that she knew that Mr. Sp oray was on active duty and out of the country. She was also free to disbelieve Ms. Kreamer s testimony that she was sure she had informed Ms. Sporay that she could not have divorced her husband while h e was o n active duty. 17 The hearing judg e made this finding af ter a discussion of M s. Kreamer s failure to respond to Mr. Van Roden s requests for Ms. Sporay s file. Judge Souder noted that [n]o prejudice to the Client s case as a result of Ms. Kreamer s delay was shown; Client did have to pay new counsel to review the Court file. 20 Ms. Kream er next exc epts to the fin ding that [ t]he Hon orable W illiam O. Carr, Administrative Judge for the Circuit Court of Harford County, testified that he had known Ms. Kreamer since elem entary school. In the six months prior to the hearing, in his opinion, Respondent had evolved into a good problem solver. Ms. Kreamer argues that Judge Carr actually testified that he had been quite impressed over [the past six months] by her ability to [be a prob lem solver] f or her clients. While it is true th at Judge C arr made th is statement, he also stated that he had seen Barbara evolve into what I th ink is a pretty good problem solver. Judge Souder was not required to repeat everything in Judge Carr s testim ony, and the finding she made is supported by the testimo ny in the re cord. See Attorney Griev. C omm n v. Va nderlin de, 364 Md. 376, 385, 773 A.2d 463, 468 (2000) (noting that the hearing court s duties are to consider all evidence properly submitted in the discipline process. Absent indications that such evidence is not considered, we presu me it was considered along w ith all the other ev idence ). M s. Kream er s seventh exception is overru led. Ms. Kreamer excepts to the conclusion that she was not diligent in her representation of client in violation of Rule 1.3. As previously noted, Rule 1.3 requires a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. While we disagree w ith the conclusion that Ms. Kreamer should have filed an absolute divorce based on a mutual and voluntary separation when requested to do so, we agree with the rest of Judge Sou der s assessment regard ing the f ailure to do anyth ing to m ove the case fo rward . From January 21 2003, when M s. Sporay ma de her w ishes know n about m oving fo rward w ith the divorce, through the end of her representation of Ms. Sporay, Ms. Kreamer propounded no discovery, made no settlement demands on opposing counsel, and repeatedly ignored Ms. Sporay s calls and e-m ails. See Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Awuah, 374 Md. 505, 522, 823 A.2d 651, 661 (2003) (holding that respondent violated Rule 1.3 because he did little work on a client s case and was not responsive to her requests about her case, among other things ); Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Cohen, 361 M d. 161, 1 74, 760 A.2d 706, 713 (2000) (holding that respondent violated R ule 1.3 becau se of repea ted failure to re turn phon e calls from client, among other things). Even if the January 200 3 meeting and the Ju ly 2003 pho ne call were substantive (because Ms. Kream er was gathering pe rtinent information from h er own client), the record does not reflect that Ms. Kreamer did anything with that information during the relevan t time pe riod to o btain a d ivorce f or her c lient. Ms. Kreamer s argument that [f]iling a supplemental complaint for absolute divorce in January 2003 would have been a waste of Respondent s time and Sporay s mone y if Mr. Sporay was on active duty . . . , is unavailing. It does not save Ms. Kreamer to argue, after the fact, that Mr. Sporay actually was on active duty at the time, which would have prevented even the most diligent attorney from obtaining additional discovery or a divorce.18 18 Ms. Kre amer argu es that it took M r. Van R oden ma ny months to obtain discovery and a final divorce, once he took over the representation of Ms. Sporay. On this point, we agree with Petitioner. Whatever Mr. Van Roden did to represent Ms. Sporay is irrelevant to the case at bar. The facts of this case remain painfully clear: Ms. Kreamer did virtually nothing to represent her client or even to communicate with her (continued...) 22 The hearing judge found that Ms. Kreamer was unaware of Mr. Sporay s active duty status during the relevan t time period . Further, the h earing judg e did not believe that Ms. Kreamer informed Ms. Sporay that they could not move forward while Mr. Sporay was on active duty. As a result, we cannot say Judge Souder erred by finding that Ms. Kreamer did not act with reasonab le diligence an d promp tness. M s. Kream er s eighth exception is overruled. Ms. Kreamer violated Rule 1.3. Ms. Kreamer next excepts to the conclusion that Respondent failed to respond meaning fully to numerous co mmunications fro m Client in violation of R ule 1.4. In support of this exceptio n, Ms. K reamer po ints to her representation of Ms. Sporay when she was first retained and notes the he arings and orders that she obtaine d exp editious ly . . . in order to protect her client. Anything Ms. K reamer did to represent M s. Sporay before January 2003 is irrelevant to whether Ms. Kreamer failed to communicate with her client after January 2003, the relevant time period in this case.19 Even if Ms. Kreamer represented Ms. Sporay well at the beginning of her representation, it does not change the fact that during the relevant time period in this case sh e failed to res pond to re quests for information from Ms. Spo ray. Ms. Kreamer also argues that since she was informed in January 2003 that Ms. 18 (...continued) client fro m Janu ary 2003 until the client term inated th e repres entation eight m onths la ter. That is th e mater ial point . 19 The Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action alleges violations after Januar y 2003. 23 Sporay s husband may be called up, her brief telephone calls and e-mails to the client were acceptable. We disagree. As mentioned earlier, R ule 1.4 requires attorneys to keep their clients reasonably informed about the status of a matter and to p romptly com ply with reasonable requests for information. In addition, the rule requires attorneys to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. Judge Souder s findings include a litany of failures to respond meaningfully to Ms. Sporay s requests for information, over a span of many months. The hearing judge also found that even if Ms. Kreamer had known that Mr. Sporay was on active duty, Respondent s failure to advise her client that the case could not proceed . . . is inexplicable. In view of those facts, we agree with the hearing judge that Ms. Kreamer violated Rule 1 .4. See Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Zuckerman, 386 Md. 341, ___, 872 A.2d 693, 710 (2005) ( holding that respon dent s failu re to pay medical b ills in a timely manner and to disburse client funds violated Rule 1.4 because respondent failed to keep his clients reasonab ly informed a bout the statu s of their case s. ); Attorney Griev. Comm n v. James, 385 Md. 637, ___, 870 A.2d 229, 245 (2005) (holding that respondent violated Rule 1.4 because he did n ot react to his client s attempts to contact him). Fina lly, Ms. Kreamer excepts to the conclu sion tha t Resp onden t violated Rule 8 .1 by failing to respond to Petitioner s Re quests seeking a respo nse to the Client s comp laint. Ms. Kreamer concedes that she made no written response to three letters from the 24 Commission.20 She argues, however, that her failure to respond in writing should be excused because she called and requested additional time to respond and, when the extended date came, she was representing a family conc erned w ith the emerg ency admiss ion of a ch ild to a mental ho spital. There after, she m istakenly thoug ht that it was to o late for he r to respond by letter. In addition, she cooperated with the investigation by meeting with the investig ator, pro ducing docum ents, an d subm itting to a depos ition. Rule 8.1 notes that a lawyer, in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not know ingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from . . . [a] disciplinary authority . . . . The August 28 letter from the Commission reques ted a written response within ten days. It also cited Rule 16-731 (d)21 and noted the concern about completing the investigation within the time established. Finally, the letter info rmed M s. Kream er of Rule 20 Those letters were dated August 28, 2003, September 8, 2003, and October 15, 21 Md. Rule 16-731 (d) provides: 2003. Unless the time is extended by the Commission for good cause, Bar Counsel shall complete an investigation within 90 days after opening the file on the complaint. Upon written request by Bar Counsel establishing good cause for an extension for a specified period, the Commission may grant one or more extensions. The Commission may not grant an extension, at any one time, of more than 60 days unless it finds specific good cause for a longer extension. If an extension exceeding 60 days is granted, Bar Counsel shall provide the Commission with a status report at least every 60 days. For failure to comply with the time requirements of this section, the Commission may take any action appropriate under the circumstances, includin g dism issal of th e com plaint an d termin ation of the inve stigation . 25 8.1. The Septem ber 8 letter referenced the first letter, gave Ms. K reamer seven days to reply, and reminded Ms. Kreamer of Rule 8.1. Finally, the October 15 letter granted Ms. Kreamer s oral request for an extension and noted that her response was expected by October 29. Ms. Kreamer s eventual response to the Commission, while certainly much better than no response at all, does not excuse her repeated failures to respond in writing, as requested by the Co mmiss ion sev eral time s. See Attorn ey Griev. C omm n v. Fezell, 361 Md. 234, 249, 253 (2000) (noting this Court s long history of holding that an attorney violates Rule 8.1 (b) by failing to respond to letters from disciplinary auth orities reques ting inform ation, and also holding that respondent s belated cooperation with Bar Counsel does not excuse respondent s failure to respond to the previous five letters sent by Bar Counsel ). We ag ree with the hea ring jud ge that M s. Krea mer vio lated R ule 8.1. Bar Counsel excepted to the failure of Judge Souder to find a violation of Maryland Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 (Competence). Rule 1.1 requires a lawyer to provide competent represe ntation t o a clien t. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasona bly neces sary for th e repres entation . In support of this argum ent, Bar Counsel points to Judge Souder s findings regarding Ms. Kreamer s failure to propound discovery, make a settlement demand, or find out about Ms. Sporay s husband s military status. Judge Souder did not find that Ms. Kreamer violated Rule 1.1 and stated: Bar Counsel states that the failure to communicate and the lack of diligence demonstrate that Respondent is not a competent 26 attorney as required by Rule 1.1. T his Court did not find persuasive Bar Co unsel s argu ment in this case that violations of Rules 1.3 and 1.4 automatically constitute a violation of Rule 1.1. We agree that a violation of Rule 1.3 (Diligence) and 1.4 (Communication) does not auto mati cally, in every case, constitute a violation of Ru le 1.1 (C ompe tence). Sometimes, however, the facts that support a finding that a respon dent violated Rule 1.3 o r Rule 1.4 w ill also support a finding that a respondent violated Rule 1 .1. See Zucke rman , 386 Md. at ___, 872 A.2d at 709-10 (holding that respondent violated Rule 1.1 because he failed to pay clients after settlement for years and because he failed to tell clients that he was holding settlement funds an d not paying th eir medical b ills, and holding that the same set of behav iors also constitu ted a vio lation of Rule 1 .3 and R ule 1.4) . Rule 1.1 requires compete nt counse l to possess the legal kn owledg e, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the repre sentation. (E mphasis added .) As mentioned previously, the fact that Mr. Sporay actually was on active duty during Ms. Kreamer s representation of Ms. Sporay did not insulate Ms. Kreamer from a finding that she did not act with reasonable diligence, in violation of Rule 1.3. A diligent attorney would have done some work on the case between January and August of 2003, even if that work would h ave been brought to a halt once th e attorney disco vered the a ctive duty status of the husband. T hat same fact, how ever, does insulate Ms. Kreamer from a finding of incompetence in this case. In reality, it was not reasonably necessary for Ms. Kreamer to propound discovery or make a settlement demand at the time in question becau se Mr. 27 Sporay s active duty status wou ld have prevented her from doing so effectively. Therefore, we ov errule p etitioner s first ex ception . Bar Counsel also excep ted to Judge Souder s statement that Respondent s apology for her failure to respond in the instant case was accepted, stating that [t]here was no evidence introduced at trial that the Respondent apologized for failing to respond. Ms. Kreamer s reply to this exception is that petitioner will not deny that, Respondent had apologized to Petitioner in the several contacts between [them] prior to the tria l. Respondent has not pointed to an y plac e in th e rec ord c onta ining eviden ce of an ap olog y. We note, however, that when asked why she did not provide a written answer to the compla int agains t her, M s. Krea mer s re sponse was W ell, I certa inly regret i t but . . . I responded to the emergency of the McKinsey family . . . . That statemen t is enough to support the hearing judge s finding on this matter. Moreover, even if Ms. Kreamer apologized for her failure to respond to Bar Counsel s requests, that apology does not excuse her failure to respond. It does not change our previous decision to uphold Jud ge Souder s finding that Ms. Kream er violated Rule 8.1 (b). W e overrule petitioner s second exception. Based upon our review of the record, we are satisfied that the evidence supports the hearing judge s findings of fact, except where noted otherwise, in accordance with the clear and convincing evidence stand ard. In addition, we agree with the hearing judge that Ms. Kreamer violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 1.16, 8.1, Md. Rule 16-609, and § 10-306 of the Busin ess and Occu pations Article o f the M aryland C ode. 28 IV. Sanction Turning to the question of the appropriate sanction, we note that our goal in attorney discipline matters is to protect the public and the public s confidence in the legal profession rather than to punish the attorney. Attorney Griev. Co mm n v. Christopher 383 Md. 624, 639, 861 A.2d 692, 70 1 (20 04). Prot ectin g the integ rity of the legal profession and deter[ing] other lawyers from engaging in violations of the Rules of Professional Cond uct, are also reasons for sanctioning attorneys who v iolate the rules. Attorney Griev. Co mm n v. Cassid y, 362 Md. 689, 698, 766 A.2d 6 32, 637 (200 1). Determ ining the ap propriate sanction requires the Court to consider the facts and circumstances of each particular case, includin g cons ideratio n of an y mitigatin g facto rs. Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Post, 379 Md. 60, 71, 839 A.2d 718, 724 (2003). In addition, the nature and gravity of the violations and the intent with which they were committed are relevant considerations. Id. (quoting Attorney Griev. Comm n of Maryland v. Awuah, 346 M d. 420, 435, 697 A.2d 446, 454 (1997)). We also have considered the attorney s prior grievance history . . . the attorney s remorse for the misconduct, and the likelihood of the conduct being repeated. Post, 379 Md. at 71 , 839 A.2d at 724-72 5 (citations om itted). As stated in Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Mon fried, 368 Md. 373, 794 A.2d 92 (2002), to determine an appropriate sanction we will, examine the nature of the misconduct, the lawyer s state of mind which underlies the misconduct, actual or p otential injury flowing from the misconduct, the duty of this Court to preserve the integrity of the profession, the risk to the public in allowing the responde nt to continu e in practice, a nd any mitiga ting or aggravating factors. 29 Mon fried, 368 Md. at 396, 794 A.2d at 105. Ms. Kreamer s counsel argues that there should be no sanction fo r Ms. Kream er s conduct in this case, or, in the alternative , only a reprimand. Bar Co unsel, however, recommends a two-year suspension, noting that Ms. Kreamer has previously been disciplined by the Court on two separa te occasions. On Fe bruary 2, 1999, this Court indefinitely suspended her from the practice of law upon finding tha t Ms. Kre amer failed to communicate with her clients and B ar Coun sel, failed to de posit unear ned fees in escrow, and misreprese nted the statu s of client matters. 353 Md. 85, 724 A.2d 666 (1999). We reinstated Ms. Kreamer on June 10, 1999, requirin g that sh e be m onitore d for tw o years. On November 19, 2002 , this Court rep rimanded Ms. Kre amer (w ith her consent) for not acting with diligence regarding a guardianship matter. Bar Counse l noted at ora l argumen t, however, that Ms. Kreamer had a practice monitor at the time and that contributed to the lesser sa nction. In suppor t of his recom mendatio n for a tw o-year suspen sion, Bar C ounsel states : The Respon dent s con duct in this case is a repeat of prior miscond uct. It appears that the Respondent s prior sanctions by this Court and the two (2) year monitor has not caused the Respondent to improve her practice. A substan tial suspensio n in this matter is necessary to prote ct the pu blic fro m futu re harm . Bar Counsel cites Attorney Grieva nce C omm ission v. M ontgom ery, 318 Md. 154, 567 A.2d 112 (1989) in support of the request for a two-year susp ension. Th at case is disting uishable from the present case. In Montgomery, respondent was found to have failed to do things he 30 had promised to do on the cases of multiple clients and to hav e failed to res pond to th eir repeated reques ts for inf ormatio n abou t their va rious ca ses. Mon tgome ry, 318 Md. at 15659, 567 A.2d at 113-14. In fact, he disappeared from his office and made it impossible for his clients to reach him. His own staff informed clients that his whereabouts were unknown. Montgomery, 318 Md. at 157, 567 A.2d at 113. Moreover, he fabricated documents that he claimed to have filed on behalf of clients, pre sumably in an attempt to make it look like he had work ed on th e case. Mon tgome ry, 318 Md. at 157, 567 A.2d at 114. Respondent in that case had been disciplined p reviously for f ive instance s of profe ssional misc onduct, primarily neglect and failure to com municate with his clients between 1977 and 1981, for which he rece ived a s ixty-day sus pensio n. Mon tgome ry, 318 Md. at 163, 567 A.2d at 117. Noting that respondent s acts in the earlier case were very similar to the acts in the current case, we held that respondent continued to neglect h is clients' affairs a nd to be ina ccessible to them after th e client-attorne y relationship has been established. Montgomery, 318 Md. at 164, 567 A.2d a t 117. W e disba rred M r. Mon tgome ry. Mon tgome ry, 318 Md. at 165, 567 A.2d at 118. The facts in the case at bar are not as egregious as those in Montgomery. Ms. Kreamer has not been accused of ignoring mu ltiple clients, over periods of years. Bar Counsel also cites Attorney Grievance Commission v. Howard, 299 Md. 731, 475 A.2d 4 66 (19 84). Howard is inapposite. In Howard, we stated: Here there was evidence to show that Howard had practiced law in Maryland for approximately 28 years, and that the disciplinary rules violations in this cas e arose fro m a difficu lt relationship with a single client. Nevertheless, Ho ward misappro priated a 31 clien t's funds and, among other things, neglected a legal matter, commingled funds, failed to kee p records, an d engage d in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. No extenuating circumstances were presented. Attorney Grievance Comm ission v. Howard, 299 Md. at 737, 475 A.2d at 469. We also noted Mr. How ard s previous infractions, which included neglecting cases and failing to be present for hearings on a number of occasions, for which he was reprimanded. Id. We disbarred Mr. Howard. The other cases relied on by Bar Counsel are equally unavailing. See Attorney Grievance Commission v. Pollack, 279 Md. 225, 369 A.2d 61 (1977) (holding that resp ond ent h ad ac ted c arele ssly an d negligently i n three matters entrusted to him including a divorce that was delayed for two years and suspe nding him for six m onths); and Mary land St ate Ba r Ass n v. Pho ebus, 276 Md. 353, 347 A.2d 556 (1975) (disbarring the respondent because of neglect in a number of clients cases, in view of previous discipline for failure to file tax returns and n eglect of clients cases). In our view, Bar Counsel s recommended sanction is too harsh. We also think, however, that doing nothing or simply imposing a reprimand as requested by Ms. Kreamer is too lenient. As we stated in Phoebus: It is apparent that the prior sanctions by way of suspensions did not succeed in imparting to him an appreciation of the seriousness of the duties an attorney owes his clients. Such sanctions obviously were ineffective in undertaking to cure the evil of his prior proven negle ct, and failed to persuad e him to reform his ways and to conform his conduct to the standards demanded of the profession. Phoe bus, 276 M d. at 365 , 347 A .2d at 56 3. 32 In Attorney Griev. Comm n v. Monfried, 368 Md. 37 3, 794 A.2d 92 (2002), respondent violated a n umber o f rules, includ ing Rule 1 .3 for failing to interview h is client, failing to investigate his case, and fa iling to a ppear f or a hea ring. Monfried, 368 Md. at 385, 794 A.2d at 98 -99. He als o violated R ule 1.4 by failing to inform his clients of the status of their cases, failing to engage in substantive conversa tions with h is clients, and f ailing to inform clients abo ut hearin g dates . Monfried, 368 Md. at 38 6, 794 A.2d at 99 . Mr. Monfried had been disciplined previously for violating Rule 1.15 (a) (Safekeeping Prop erty), Rule 8.1 (b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary matters), Md. Rule 16-603 (Duty to M aintain Account), 16-604 (Trust Account), and § 10-306 of the Business and Occupations and Professions Article of the Md. Code (Misuse of Tru st Mo ney). Monfried, 368 Md. at 396, 794 A .2d at 10 5. Bar Coun sel reco mmen ded dis barme nt. Monfried, 368 Md. at 394, 794 A.2d at 104. Mr. Monfried argued t hat he s hould b e reprim anded . Id. We imposed a sanction of indefinite suspension with the righ t to apply for reinstatement after the expira tion of 180 days and required respondent to return a fee to one of the clien ts. Monfried, 368 Md. at 397, 794 A.2d at 106. In Cassidy, responde nt violated Rule 1.3 b ecause he was hired to make a simple change to a deed, said he wou ld complete the task in three weeks, and then never finished the task. Cassidy, 362 Md. at 696, 766 A.2d at 635. He also violated Rule 1.4 because he repeatedly failed to respond to client inquiries and beca use he faile d to tell his clients of his 33 suspension from th e practic e of law . Cassidy, 362 Md. at 698, 766 A.2d at 637. Bar Counsel recommended an indefinite suspe nsio n in v iew of re spon dent s di sciplinar y histo ry. Cassidy, 362 Md. at 699, 766 A.2d at 637. Mr. Cassidy suggested a reprimand. Cassidy, 362 Md. at 700, 766 A.2d at 638. Mr. Cassidy s prior violations included a number of reprimands for violations of Rule 1.3 and an eighteen-month suspension for failing to obtain proper pa yoff amou nts in four re al estate settlements and for no t releasin g liens. Cassidy, 362 M d. at 699 , 766 A .2d at 63 7. We noted that lack of commu nication w ith one s clien t, for whate ver reason , is a matter of continuing concern to the public, warranting disciplinary sanction. Cassidy, 362 Md. at 700, 766 A.2d at 637 (quoting Attorn ey Grie v. Com m n v. M ontgom ery, 296 Md. 113, 12 0, 460 A .2d 597 , 600 (1 983)). W e also sta ted that, when we con sider Resp ondent s c onduct in lig ht of his prior disciplinary history, it is clear that, to protect the public, an increase in the degree of discipline beyond that of a reprim and is nece ssary. The conduct u nderlying the in stant infraction s is the same conduct for which Respondent had been disciplined in the past. Cassidy, 362 Md. at 700, 766 A.2d at 63 8. We im posed a sa nction of a n indefinite suspension and conditioned Mr. Cassidy s reinstatement on a number of conditions. Cassidy, 362 M d. at 701 , 766 A .2d at 63 8. As in Cassidy, the conduct unde rlying the infractions in Ms. Kream er s case is the same conduct for which Ms. Kreamer was prev iously disciplined (failure to commu nicate with clients and B ar Coun sel and lack of diligence). In view of those facts, discipline 34 beyond a reprim and is n ecessa ry. Having considered the particular facts and circumstances of this case and Ms. Kream er s prior discip line history, we th ink the app ropriate sanc tion is an indefinite suspension with the right to reapply for reinstateme nt after the ex piration of six months. The period of suspension shall commence thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this O pinion and O rder. IT IS SO ORDERED; RESPONDENT SHALL PAY ALL COSTS AS TAXED BY T H E C L E R K O F T H I S C OU R T , INCLUDING THE COSTS OF ALL TRANSCRIPTS, PURSUANT TO MARYLAND RULE 16-515(c), FOR WHICH SUM JUDGMENT IS ENTERED IN FAVOR OF THE ATTO RN EY G R I E V A NC E C O M M I S S I O N OF M A R Y L A N D A G A I N S T B A R B A RA OSBORN KREAMER. 35