Baton Rouge lawyer, Southern Board of Sups member Walter Dumas surrenders law license amid investigations _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Walter Dumas

The more than four-decade legal career of Baton Rouge lawyer and former Southern University Board of Supervisors member Walter C. Dumas is over.

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Monday accepted Dumas’ petition for permanent resignation in lieu of discipline.

Just two months ago, the justices suspended the 71-year-old Dumas from practicing law for two years for his misconduct and negligence involving a client’s funds in a succession his firm handled seven years ago.

The high court’s written order Monday indicates the Office of Disciplinary Counsel was conducting another investigation into allegations that Dumas “committed serious attorney misconduct, the most significant of which involves his conversion of client and third-party funds.”

Dumas asked that he be allowed to permanently resign from the practice of law in lieu of further discipline, and the court granted his request.

“It’s a very sad day for Walter and the thousands of members of the community he served, often without a fee,” Dumas’ attorney, Jim Boren, said Tuesday. “It’s a shame such a splendid and successful career had to end this way.”

Even without a law license, he added, Dumas’ commitment to the community remains strong.

Dumas is now permanently prohibited from practicing law in Louisiana or in any other jurisdiction in which he is admitted to practice law, according to the Supreme Court’s order. He also is permanently barred from seeking readmission to the practice of law in this state or any other jurisdiction and is permanently forbidden to seek admission to practice law in any jurisdiction.

Dumas’ disciplinary record before the state Supreme Court includes a one-year suspension in 2002 for commingling client and third-party funds; a 1996 reprimand for engaging in behavior deemed incompetent, negligent and a conflict of interest; and a reprimand in 1987 for withholding fees in excess of what was specified in an employment contract, failing to pay third-party medical providers and not depositing disputed funds in a trust.

In addition to memberships in church and civic organizations across the city, he holds the distinction as the first black person appointed to an ad hoc judgeship on Baton Rouge City Court.