Wednesday, March 3, 2021
An attorney who had practiced with two law firms while on inactive status has been publicly reprimanded by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The referee said that Attorney Downs Russell is an intelligent and competent lawyer; she is likeable and very family oriented; and she has received no prior discipline. The referee noted that the reasons Attorney Downs Russell gave for her misconduct included being busy with family obligations and raising three children. The referee said, however, being busy with family obligations is not an excuse to practice law for approximately two years without an active law license. The referee noted that Attorney Downs Russell also testified at the sanction hearing that she did not think it would take as long as it actually did to acquire the 60 CLE credits she needed to return to active status. But the referee said certainly at some point during that two-year period she should have realized the seriousness of continuing to practice law while her status was still inactive. The referee said, "it is difficult for me to understand how she thought, after practicing law for two years while inactive, that she could return to active status without anyone realizing she had practiced for two years while inactive."
The court rejected the attorney's request for a private reprimand. (Mike Frisch)