Friday, May 25, 2012
An attorney who neglected a client matter, failed to cooperate with the ensuing bar investigation and back-dated correspondence to the Office of Lawyer Regulation to make it appear that she had timely cooperated has been suspended for 60 days by the Wisconsin Supreme Court:
After careful consideration of the report and recommendation, the record in this matter, and the written statements of the parties, we accept the referee's recommendation regarding suspension, restitution, and costs. The misconduct at issue here was serious, and Attorney...offers no legitimate excuse for her failure to diligently represent her clients and her failure to provide them with information about their cases, fees, and expenses in spite of their numerous requests that she do so. Nor does she offer a legitimate excuse for her failure to fully and honestly cooperate with the OLR's investigation into her conduct. Given the length of time over which the misconduct occurred and the number of instances of misconduct involved, Attorney...'s excuses for her behavior ring hollow. The fact that, as the referee noted, Attorney...expresses little remorse for her misconduct suggests that Attorney...may not appreciate the seriousness of her misconduct. A period of suspension is necessary in this case to impress upon Attorney...the seriousness of her professional misconduct and to protect the public from similar misconduct in the future.
It being Wisconsin, there is a dissent (here, from Chief Justice Abrahamson):
As a result of the per curiam opinion, Attorney...will be able to resume the practice of law in Wisconsin with the passage of 60 days. She will not have to make any showing that she has taken steps to avoid similar misconduct in the future.
Any discipline imposed on Attorney...should, in my opinion, require her to demonstrate to this court, before she resumes practice, that she has made efforts to remedy the causes of her repeated failures to serve her clients. Attorney...must demonstrate that she is competent to practice law.
For the reasons set forth, I dissent. I conclude that a 60-day period of discipline, with automatic re-admission to the practice of law, is not adequate to protect the public in the present case.