Attorney: Christopher T. Watkins
Bar membership: Member since 1984
Disciplinary action: Suspended from the practice of law for three years on July 3. After six months, Watkins may apply for a stay of the remaining portion of the suspension.
Background: A random procedural audit of Watkins’ trust account revealed numerous failures to properly monitor and maintain required records, including failing to conduct monthly and quarterly reconciliations, failing to escheat unidentified or abandoned funds, and failure to promptly pay to the client funds to which the client was entitled. Previous audits of Watkins’ account had revealed similar deficiencies. As a result of the most recent audit, the State Bar requested all of Watkins’ trust account records to conduct a full audit. The records Watkins provided were disorganized, often contradictory, and inadequate in terms of accuracy and completeness. The full audit revealed additional deficiencies, including failure to maintain accurate client ledgers and disbursing funds from the trust account to certain clients using funds that belonged to other clients.
Previous discipline: Watkins was reprimanded in 1990 for failing to properly communicate with a client, for undertaking a representation in which he did not have sufficient competence, and for engaging in a conflict of interest. He was also suspended for three years in 2010 for failing to timely file and pay his state and federal income taxes. That suspension was stayed in its entirety.