The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a Chicago attorney’s license for two years over his co-founding and operating of a national debt-settlement company.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation, in a complaint filed Monday, had asked the Supreme Court to suspend Jeffrey Aleman’s license for two years. The request came partly in response to discipline Aleman received June 4 in Illinois for co-founding and working with a national debt-settlement firm: Chicago-based Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled May 15 that Aleman and with his business partner had violated Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to consult clients, failing to explain matters to clients so that they could make informed decisions, failing to supervise non-lawyers to ensure the firm operated within the rules of professional conduct, and assisting in an unauthorized practice of law.
The OLR and Aleman reached a stipulation in which Aleman agreed with the discipline the OLR had requested. The court, in a per curiam decision Wednesday, agreed that the two-year suspension was appropriate. Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented, and Justice Rebecca Bradley did not participate.
The two-year license suspension, Abrahamson wrote in her dissent, seemed too harsh when compared with discipline the court had imposed in other cases.
Aleman, who practiced in Chicago, graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1996. He has no history of professional discipline in Wisconsin. Aleman used to be licensed to practice in Illinois, where he was admitted to practice in 1997. His license to practice law in Wisconsin was administratively suspended in June for failing to report the completion of continuing-education requirements.
Aleman could not immediately be reached Wednesday.
The Illinois complaint against Aleman stemmed from a lawsuit filed against Legal Helpers by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in March 2011. The parties settled the suit in July 2012. Legal Helpers agreed to stop enrolling Illinois customers, stop advertising in the state and stop collecting additional fees from Illinois clients. Legal Helpers paid $2.1 million in partial restitution to Illinois customers and $150,000 to the state.
Legal Helpers has entered agreements with attorneys general in six other states, including Wisconsin.
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