Carlos Gamino, a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer, is an avid reader, and he’s hooked on reading about other lawyers. Sure, it doesn’t sound interesting if you’re not an attorney, but some of the things that turn up would put a TV drama to shame. Here’s an inside peek at what happens to lawyers subjected to disciplinary proceedings in the state of Wisconsin.
Lawyers are held to a high standard—not just in Wisconsin, but all across the country—and when an attorney gets into trouble, the circumstances can be really interesting. Naturally, some lawyers go through disciplinary proceedings over fee disputes and things that will leave you yawning… but some of it is particularly engaging.
Everything but Rock ‘n Roll
In 2007, a Wisconsin lawyer faced disciplinary proceedings for having sex with his client’s girlfriend while his client was present. The attorney later went to the client’s home and used cocaine and marijuana with the couple. It turned out that the lawyer was on drugs during the client’s trial—and he may have used his clients’ trust accounts to purchase the drugs.
It wasn’t the sexual conduct that cost this attorney his license, though; it was the use of drugs with his clients.
Show Me the Money
A few years ago, a prominent Wisconsin lawyer faced disciplinary proceedings for serious financial issues. The attorney, who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar several times prior to the instance that landed him in front of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, let his bookkeeper charge two vacations on the firm’s credit card; he also purchased thousands of dollars of personal items and had the bookkeeper list them as “office expenses.”
What really stole the show is that this lawyer provided legal services to clients, didn’t tell the firm, and still billed the clients.
Attorneys are People, Too
Lawyers make mistakes, just like everyone else does. Like many other fields that require licenses, there isn’t a “right” to practice law. It’s a privilege, and it’s one that can be taken away from people who don’t treat it like one.