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CPA Fined for Unauthorized Practice of Law

The Delaware Supreme Court fines an
accountant for using two lawyers in a "contemptuous scheme" to
circumvent its earlier order that the accountant cease engaging in the
unauthorized practice of law by drafting wills and trusts for clients.
In the Matter of Estep
(Del., No. 647, 2006, Aug. 15, 2007).

October 30, 2006, the Supreme Court of Delaware ordered Ralph V. Estep,
a public accountant, to cease and desist the unauthorized practice of
law, specifically the drafting of wills and trusts. Less than two
months later, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel alleged that Mr. Estep
was in violation of that order. Mr. Estep admitted meeting with
individuals to discuss estate planning but denied that he had drafted
any legal documents or that he had rendered any legal advice.

a hearing, the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law found that Mr.
Estep would typically meet with clients and then send his detailed
notes on the meetings to Leonard Kingsley, an attorney not admitted in
Delaware. Mr. Kingsley drafted estate planning documents as directed by
Mr. Estep and using forms Mr. Estep provided. With only two exceptions,
Mr. Kingsley never met with Mr. Estep’s clients. The documents were
then forwarded to attorney Thomas McCracken, a member of the Delaware
Bar. Mr. Kingsley never met with Mr. McCracken to discuss the
documents, and Mr. Estep’s clients’ first introduction to their lawyer
was only moments before the documents were signed. Mr. McCracken
testified that he never made any substantive changes to any of the

Board concluded that Mr. Estep’s business arrangements with the two
lawyers constituted "a transparent, nefarious attempt to circumvent the
Cease and Desist Order and continue with ‘business as usual.’" The
Board noted that the fact that Mr. Estep did not himself perform the
drafting was no defense because Mr. Kingsley did the drafting at Mr.
Estep’s direction, using Mr. Estep’s forms, for Mr. Estep’s pecuniary

Supreme Court of Delaware holds Mr. Estep in contempt for violating its
order and orders him to disgorge all fees received for legal services
and pay a fine of $2,000 for each of nine counts of contemptuous
conduct, for a total payment of $35,868.75.

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