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High court suspends Illinois attorney’s license

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended the license of an Illinois attorney who was recently disciplined in his home state over fabricating lien documents and presenting them to a client.

According to a complaint filed in June by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, Michael Cummings failed to report to Wisconsin authorities that the Illinois Supreme Court had suspended his license in March for six months over allegations that he had fabricated a mechanic’s lien and presented it to a client.

At the time, Cummings had been an associate at Highland Park, Ill.-based Emalfarb, Swan & Bain. He had been hired in May 2014 to file and record a mechanic’s lien for a plumbing subcontractor on a residential construction project in Kentucky.  Cummings did not have a license to practice in Kentucky, so he sought out a Kentucky attorney to handle the matter.

For the lien to be valid under Kentucky law, a notice of intent to file the lien had to be given to the property owner by August 12, 2014. However, Cummings failed to supply information to the Kentucky attorney before that date and fabricated documents that made it appear as though a lien had been filed and recorded on time.

When the subcontractor discovered the lien had in fact not been filed, it sued Cummings and his firm in December 2015. Cummings’ firm subsequently fired him in February 2016.

The OLR sought a reciprocal six-month suspension of Cummings’ Wisconsin license. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered Cummings in October to explain why it shouldn’t grant the request for reciprocal discipline. He failed to respond to that order and to the OLR’s complaint.

As a result, the court on Friday suspended his Wisconsin license for six months.

Cummings, who graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1995, had been licensed to practice law in Wisconsin since 1997. His license has been suspended since 2000 for failing to pay mandatory dues.

About Erika Strebel,

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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