NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) – New Orleans attorney Nichole Rene Goudeau has been suspended following an Aug. 31 Louisiana Supreme Court attorney disciplinary proceeding on her giving counsel in a 2009 divorce case while she was ineligible to practice law.
The high court suspended Goudeau for a year and one day and ordered her to pay restitution plus legal interest to her client in the divorce case in addition to all costs and expenses, according to the high court's seven-page attorney disciplinary proceeding.
Goudeau was admitted to the bar in Louisiana Oct. 18, 2007, according to her profile at the state bar's website.
Goudeau has been ineligible to practice law in Louisiana for failing to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements, to pay bar dues and a disciplinary assessment and to file a trust account disclosure statement, according to the Supreme Court's attorney disciplinary proceeding.
Despite being ineligible to practice law in Louisiana, Goudeau began representing a woman in a divorce case in November 2009, charging $135 per hour and a $1,500 deposit, which the client paid. "However, before those pleadings were filed with the court, (the client) requested that (Goudeau) stop working on the matter," the attorney disciplinary proceeding.
Goudeau sent the client a bill for about $2,345 for 13 hours of legal research, four hours calculating child support and more than six hours drafting the petition that was never finalized and filed, according to the attorney disciplinary proceeding. The client didn't pay the bill and Goudeau did not seek to collect, though she also didn't issue the client a refund of her deposit.
The office of disciplinary counsel, in charges filed in July 2011, found that Goudeau's conduct violated professional conduct rules, including those regarding continuing education compliance, failure to pay bar dues, charging an unreasonable fee and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
In April, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommended Goudeau be suspended for a one year and one day and that she be ordered to make restitution to her client in the divorce case and pay all costs and expenses in the proceedings.