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Attorney faces discipline in Wisconsin over misconduct in Massachusetts

An attorney faces the revocation of his Wisconsin law license after his license in Massachusetts was suspended indefinitely.

According to an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed March 23, Ronald Brandt failed to notify lawyer regulators in Wisconsin that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts had indefinitely suspended his license there on Jan. 30.

The OLR is seeking reciprocal discipline for the Massachusetts misconduct and asking that the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoke Brandt’s Wisconsin license.

The Massachusetts misconduct stems from three client matters Brandt handled, as well as his interaction with that state’s lawyer-regulation investigators.

Brandt could not be reached Tuesday.

According to the complaint filed by Massachusetts regulators in August last year, a couple hired Brandt in 2014 and paid $7,500 to retain him but he did not perform “any legal services of substance” and failed to respond to the couple’s requests for information about the progress of their case.

Brandt later withdrew all the money from that account without doing work on the case and failed to provide the couple with an itemized bill or prior notice of the withdrawal, according to the complaint. Regulators also alleged Brandt also failed to notify the couple that he had closed his office and failed to respond to the couple’s request for their file and a refund of the unused retainer fee.

In the case of another client, who had hired Brandt in 2013 to represent her in an employment discrimination claim, regulators allege, among other things, that Brandt failed to respond to calls and emails over the course of six months, failed to respond to and make discovery requests, failed to take depositions, and failed to notify his client in a timely manner that she needed to give a deposition.

Another client hired Brandt in 2013 to represent him in a dispute with a subcontractor who had done work on the client’s home. The client paid Brandt a “non-refundable” $2,500 retainer. Once the proceedings started, regulators alleged that Brandt had failed to do any work on the case, including responding to requests for documents and failing to appear at a pretrial conference. The court entered a default judgement against the client, and Brandt failed to seek relief, according to the complaint. The client later fired Brandt, who failed to refund the retainer to the client.

The complaint also alleges Brandt failed to respond to regulators who were investigating the clients’ grievances against Brandt.

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers voted Dec. 12 to find Brandt in default after he failed to respond to the complaint despite regulators’ attempts to serve him at his home and office. The board recommended that his license be indefinitely suspended, and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts followed that recommendation on Jan. 30.

Since October 2013,Brandt’s license has been administratively suspended for failing to pay bar dues and failing to file a certification of his trust account.

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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