30 Violations of Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Yields One Year Suspension

By Attorney Gregg Herman
October 25, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve ranted about Wisconsin powder puff disciplinary system.  Actually, even calling it a “disciplinary”system is too generous.

The reason it’s been a while is that the SC has not even issued any disciplinary decisions recently.   Apparently, all 21,000 (yes, there are that many) licensed lawyers in this state are currently behaving themselves.  As if.

But, this week, the court got out its slap on the hands.  According to the decision, Attorney Mary Biester admitted to thirty (count ’em) violations.  The SC states:  “although at first blush a one-year suspension may seem to be on the light side for an attorney who has stipulated to 30 counts of professional misconduct…”   They are right, but it appears to be “on the light side” at later blushes as well.

The court quoted the referee as finding that:

Attorney Biester engaged in multiple acts of misconduct that occurred over a period of years.  She did not initially cooperate with the OLR during its investigations.  The referee said the misuse of client funds became a pattern, and court orders were not followed.  The referee also noted each of the six client matters detailed in the OLR’s amended complaint evidences harm to the client and injury to the integrity of the legal system in Wisconsin. 

The mitigating factors were that she had no prior disciplinary history and that she was sorry.

Really.

My guess is that if any lay person were asked what should happen to a lawyer who used client trust funds for her own benefit, they would say that she should be disbarred permanently.   And, of course, that is not even taking into account the other violations.

As I’ve said before, it is no surprise lawyers are held in such low regard.  If we don’t respect our own professionalism to police ourselves appropriately, why should anyone else respect us?

Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman S.C. in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.