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Home / Legal News / Worker’s comp lawyer Menard’s law license revoked for ‘far-reaching, deplorable conduct’

Worker’s comp lawyer Menard’s law license revoked for ‘far-reaching, deplorable conduct’

The Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorney Robert Menard is seeing his law license revoked for what has been described as “far-reaching deplorable conduct” tied to ongoing federal felony-theft lawsuits.

Menard, who has billed himself as a lawyer for the “Average Joe,” is faced with a series of felony charges for allegedly stealing nearly $1 million from clients. The latest lawsuit, filed in January, accused him of running a Ponzi scheme.

The Office of Lawyer Regulations threatened to disbar him after receiving the complaints about his alleged theft, forgery and misconduct while practicing at Derzon & Menard in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Supreme Court released its decision on Menard’s punishment for the OLR’s misconduct charges on Friday.

The OLR said Menard would overdraw the firm’s business account and then restore it to a positive balance by transferring money from the trust account, in what the firm’s trust-account administrator described as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

This happened repeatedly, according to the OLR, and resulted in various clients not receiving their entire settlement. The charges accuse Menard of inappropriately depositing as many as 175 checks totaling more than $4.6 million. The referee said Menard converted more than $1 million of client money and went on to say that amount was likely “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“The scope of Respondent’s conduct in playing fast and loose with client money is simply breathtaking,” the referee wrote. “This is far-reaching, deplorable and disreputable conduct. It reflects poorly on the practice of law in general and has jaded those clients that Respondent was to have served.”

Menard stipulated to 30 counts of misconduct, but he appealed the referee’s revocation recommendation. He instead asked for a suspension between 18 and 24 months.

Menard defended his conduct, saying his actions were made on his clients’ behalf. Some of his clients had no bank account, he said, while others were simply overwhelmed with the prospect of having to resolve unpaid medical expenses on their own. He also argued the OLR fell short of proving the alleged restitution amounts are still owed and had not taken his clean disciplinary record into account.

The state Supreme Court found his continued practice of law was a threat to public interest and temporarily suspended his license in March. The opinion released on Friday said the record clearly showed that the OLR had met its burden of proof.

The justices agreed with the referee’s recommendation to revoke Menard’s law license, citing Weigel, a previous disciplinary case that resulted in an attorney’s disbarment, in their decision.

“Here, as in Weigel, monies belonging to one client were routinely used to pay off other clients as well as firm and personal expenses,” the opinion said. “As in Weigel, in virtually every client matter he handled, Attorney Menard ‘robbed Peter to pay Paul.'”

The state Supreme Court ordered him to pay $97,692.49 in restitution to six clients. He also must pay the costs of the proceeding, which totaled $18,191.42 as of October.

Menard did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Justice Rebecca Dallet did not participate in the decision.


About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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