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State Supreme Court revokes Wausau lawyer’s license

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday revoked the license of a Wausau lawyer accused of 34 charges of misconduct.

Allegations against Ryan Lister include maintaining a sexual relationship with a client and misusing a client’s trust account.

Lister has been licensed to practice law since 1976. Wednesday’s discipline stems from a 2013 Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint alleging ethical violations regarding multiple clients.

According to court documents, a referee found that Lister committed all but one count of alleged misconduct. In particular, the OLR alleged Lister had a sexual relationship with a client referred to as J.T., while J.T. was a client.

According to Lister’s motion, Lister and J.T. had a serious relationship, but not while J.T. was a client. Lister sought reconsideration because another former client, A.P., had entered a no contest plea in a criminal case.

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The justices disagreed with Lister’s appeal, which claimed the referee’s decision was “an erroneous exercise of discretion.” Lister also contended that the OLR failed to prove he committed ethical allegations regarding his representation of A.P.

According to the Supreme Court opinion, Lister ‘s conduct “reflects a dishonest or selfish motive; multiple offenses; intentional violation of the rules; submittal of false information to the OLR; refusal to acknowledged the wrongful nature of his conduct; and vulnerable clients.”

The justices also noted his significant disciplinary history. According to court documents, he was publicly reprimanded for unprofessional conduct in 1986, and in 2007 Lister’s license was suspended for five months on 17 counts of misconduct. In 2010, his license was suspended for 60 days. Lister fell behind on restitution payments from a previous OLR case in 2012, and the OLR then asked the court to enforce the original order.

Robert Kinney, a referee in the case, told the court Lister had demonstrated that he is a “dishonest manipulator of the weak.”

Lister argued that a public reprimand would have been sufficient punishment because he did not commit any crimes. He could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

The court also ordered that Lister pay restitution: $8,548.89 to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection; $3,151 to a client referred to in court documents as D.W.; and $100 to a client referred to as A.B. He was also ordered to pay $28,200.86 for the full cost of the proceedings.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.


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