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Colorado attorney faces revocation of Wisconsin license

A Colorado attorney is facing the revocation of his Wisconsin license for behavior that got him disbarred in his home state.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint on Dec. 29 charging the solo practitioner Philip Kleinsmith with failing to notify the agency that he had been disbarred in Colorado and contending that Kleinsmith should also be disciplined in Wisconsin.

Kleinsmith had been admitted to practice law in Colorado since 1967 but a hearing board in December 2016 disbarred him for converting money that belonged to a title company.

The disbarment stems from Kleinsmith’s work representing U.S. Bank in 74 foreclosures in Idaho and Montana from 2012 to 2014. Kleinsmith hired a title company to provide certain services to the bank. The title company charged Kleinsmith more than $55,000 for those services, and Kleinsmith billed the bank for that amount. The bank paid, but instead of sending that payment to the title company, Kleinsmith deposited the money into his firm’s operating account and used the money to pay expenses of the law firm.

The Colorado Supreme Court in December affirmed the hearing board’s decision to disbar Kleinsmith.

The OLR is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to revoke Kleinsmith’s Wisconsin license as a reciprocal disciplinary action to his disbarment in Colorado. Revocation would basically ban Kleinsmith from practicing in Wisconsin, though he would be able to petition the court to reinstate his license after five years. The agency is also asking that the court order Kleinsmith to tell the court of any claim he has that the reciprocal disciplinary action is not warranted.

Kleinsmith has been licensed in Wisconsin since 1999, though his license has been suspended since Oct. 31 for failing to pay bar dues and providing certification of his trust account.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Kleinsmiwth in 2013 in response to the Arizona Supreme Court’s reprimanding him for filing improper arbitration certificates in nine states, failing to appear at a hearing, failing to properly serve a party, failing to properly withdraw as counsel and filing documents with errors and omissions. According to the OLR, Kleinsmith is admitted to practice in dozens of other states.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

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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