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Northern Wisconsin attorney’s license suspended over trust account violations

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a northern Wisconsin attorney for using trust account money to pay for personal expenses.

Thursday’s discipline against Thomas Mulligan stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed in December 2013, which alleged Mulligan used as much as $9,488 from his clients’ trust accounts to pay for personal expenses between 2007 and 2011. It also accuses him of entering improper fee agreements with two clients when he represented them in criminal and divorce cases.

The eight-count complaint also stated that Mulligan, through his attorney, admitted to the OLR that he did not keep individual client ledgers.

According to Thursday’s decision, Mulligan contends that the ethical violations do not warrant restitution, suspension or full costs.

The OLR had asked the court to suspend Mulligan’s license for two years. It did not ask the court to impose restitution because it could not calculate an amount from the evidence it had collected, but a court-appointed referee suggested that Mulligan pay back $7,500 to a client for fees he did not earn.

However, the justices Thursday decided to suspend his license for 1-1/2 years, ordered him to attend a trust account seminar and, upon reinstatement, submit to monitoring of his trust account.

The court did not order restitution, according to the per curiam decision, because it agreed with the OLR that there was not enough evidence to ascertain the amount of restitution to be paid.

The court also ordered that Mulligan pay for the full costs of the disciplinary proceeding, which is $17,720.02.

Mulligan earned his degree from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1972. He has been disciplined three times since being admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar in 1985. Mulligan practices and lives in Spooner.

He could not immediately be reached Thursday.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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