The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a Fond du Lac attorney’s license for 14 months.
Thursday’s disciplinary action stems from charges the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed in 2016 against Daniel Parks, alleging that Parks had committed 19 counts of misconduct related to work he performed while at the Ripon offices of Zacherl, O’Malley & Endejan from 1995 to 2013, as well as to his dealings with a client, her daughter and her sister.
According to the allegations, he pocketed thousands of dollars worth of legal fees that should have gone to his firm, represented more than 30 clients without his firm’s knowledge and without checking for conflicts and persuaded a client to give him a $35,000 loan after the client had won a personal-injury settlement in which he represented her.
The OLR had asked for a two-year suspension of Parks’ license. Later, the OLR reduced the counts of misconduct to 14.
In February, the referee in the case, William Eich, found that Parks had only committed eight of the 14 rule violations the OLR had alleged and recommended to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that Parks’ license be suspended for 14 months instead of two years. Eich also recommended that Parks pay the full cost of the proceeding.
Parks, represented by Peyton Engel of the Madison-based firm Hurley Burish, challenged Eich’s recommendations, contending, among other things, that the recommended suspension was excessive and that the referee had been mistaken in finding that Parks had committed any misconduct. Parks also challenged the recommendation that he pay the full cost of the proceeding. He contended that because the OLR eventually dismissed some counts of misconduct, he should only have to pay a quarter of the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. By July 6, Parks had run up a bill of $42,226.26
Parks had also asked the court either to find that Parks committed no misconduct or to impose a license suspension lasting less than six months. A license suspension shorter than six months lets a lawyer seek reinstatement without having to undergo a hearing.
The justices on Thursday rejected Parks’ contentions, adopting Eich’s recommendations. The court noted that it doesn’t impose costs by taking into account the number of charges the OLR proves.
“Attorney Parks litigated this case vigorously as is his right,” the court wrote in Thursday’s per curiam opinion. “That, more than any strategy on the part of the OLR, is the reason for the high costs.”
Parks’ license suspension takes effect on Jan. 24, 2019.