The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended the law license of a Delafield attorney for mishandling client money for years.
Delafield attorney Thomas McClure graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1980. He has not previously been professionally disciplined.
McClure could not be immediately reached Tuesday.
Tuesday’s discipline stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed Sept. 26 that alleges McClure had committed 21 counts of misconduct. The complaint detailed how McClure took money from clients’ trust accounts, misrepresented client fees and failed to explain fees to new clients.
During the OLR’s investigation, McClure’s attorney wrote that his client mixed money from his accounts and used it for client, business and personal expenses because McClure had not had support staff since 2005.
““Unfortunately, he became overwhelmed attempting to balance the demands of doing professional quality legal work for his clients … and attending to the everyday details of running an office,” the attorney wrote.
The OLR, in its complaint, had asked that the court suspend McClure’s license for two years, and a referee had recommended that it be suspended for six months.
The court disagreed and instead ordered that McClure’s license be suspended for five months.
According to the court’s decision, the justices chose to suspend McClure’s license for less time than requested because he had no prior discipline, no clients or medical providers lost money and the referee found him to be remorseful. The court also noted that McClure faced “a multitude of personal problems during the time period at issue in this case.”
The justices also noted that “there was perhaps an element of overcharging, or at least parsing the misconduct into more counts than was truly warranted.”
According to the opinion, the court concluded that the five month suspension will “sufficiently protect the public from similar misconduct” and “impose upon Attorney McClure the gravity of his offenses.” It noted that McClure’s discipline is consistent with sanctions imposed in a similar situation.
The court also ordered that McClure complete 15 hours of continuing legal education ethics courses with at least eight of those hours focusing on trust account administration. The justices also ordered him to pay $13,677.99 for the proceeding.Follow @erikastrebel