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Florida Attorney Charged Client for Birthday Party, Yard Work, and More
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byrom

Summary: Milton area attorney Jennifer Byrom took over as guardian of a widowed client’s property, charging her for throwing a birthday party, doing yard work, attending a funeral, and more.

The Florida Bar has come down hard on a Milton attorney that took advantage of her widowed client. Jennifer Byrom is accused of charging her client over $400,000 over the span of ten years for things like planning the woman’s birthday party and doctor’s appointments.

  
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Byrom has been practicing law since 1984 and has been working with this client since 1998 after the client’s husband died, leaving her with a $1.5 million estate. The complaint against Byrom states that she made herself the voluntary guardian of the woman’s property by convincing the client that her daughter was not a good choice since she lived far away.

The complaint further continues that Byrom did not provide an explanation of the fees to the client for things like maintaining the woman’s property and other legal work. She began performing functions outside of her duties and authority as guardian of the property. She was charging $180 to $250 per hour for the time she put in and $60 to $80 per hour for the time her staff put in for talking about the client’s medical issues with doctors, visiting socially, reviewing her mail, and taking the client to doctor’s appointments. Byrom even tacked on an $85 per hour fee for a member of her staff to perform yard work, cleaning, and painting projects for the client.

Byrom charged the woman for attending the visitation and funeral services for the client’s son, visiting her on her birthday, throwing the woman a birthday party, sitting in a hospital waiting room for several hours while the woman was in surgery, and additional expenses for mileage and food.

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The client’s son died in 2007, causing the client’s daughter to start receiving copies of Byrom’s legal charges. The complaint states that at that time, the fees jumped up from $1,550 for one month to $12,000 the next month and continued to rise each month after.

The daughter tried for the next two years to get herself made the guardian after her mother was deemed incapacitated. Byrom fought back. The court eventually learned that Byrom had the original Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian in her possession from 1998 naming the daughter preneed guardian if the client should be found incompetent. She had withheld that important fact from the courts. The daughter was then named the guardian of her mother’s person and property.



Another four years later, Byrom accepted a confidential settlement against Byrom. In a conditional guilty plea to the Florida Bar, Byrom admitted her guilt and acceptance of a public reprimand. Byrom is also required to complete her continuing education credits. The Florida Bar accepted those terms in January and released the public reprimand list in March.

Do you think Byrom should have received a more severe punishment like probation or suspension? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about bad Florida lawyers, read these articles:

Byrom Photo: pview.findlaw.com

Office Photo: byromlaw.com



 

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