Attorney Philip K. Lyon Accused of Bilking Nashville Clients, Faces Suspension

A former Little Rock attorney who made a name for himself representing country music celebrities in Nashville is facing a one-year suspension of his Tennessee law license for misusing tens of thousands of client dollars.

Philip K. Lyon, who separated his practice from the law firm now known as Jack Nelson Jones & Bryant in 2007, has until the end of the week to decide whether to appeal the judgment of a hearing committee of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

“I’m trying to figure out what to do. There’s some extenuating circumstances,” Lyon told Whispers last week, but he declined to elaborate.

Lyon self-reported to the Tennessee BPR in May, a committee heard the case in December and in January it ordered the one-year suspension of Lyon’s license and restitution of $42,500.

According to the hearing committee’s report, Lyon admitted that in the fall of 2010 he covered “operating expenses” by using some $70,000 that a friend and client had given him “for safekeeping.” In early 2011, the client needed the money in order to close a real estate transaction, but Lyon was unable to come up with the cash and the client missed out on the deal “and suffered financial losses.”

In the summer of 2011, Lyon reimbursed the client using money from another client’s trust fund. When it came time to pay the second client and co-counsel in her case, Lyon ultimately emptied the woman’s trust account and his operating account and still had to come up with more than $21,500 to make her whole.

The $42,500 he was ordered to pay represents the first client’s “damages from not being able to consummate his real estate transaction,” according to the hearing committee’s report.

Although Lyon’s practice has been primarily in Nashville since the mid-1980s, he has maintained his Arkansas law license. That, too, may be subject to disciplinary action if he doesn’t successfully appeal the Tennessee suspension.