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Paperwork oversight earns Milwaukee County’s top attorney temporary license suspension

By: USA Today Network//July 6, 2020//

Paperwork oversight earns Milwaukee County’s top attorney temporary license suspension

By: USA Today Network//July 6, 2020//

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Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun. (Photo courtesy of Robert Knuth)
Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun. (Photo courtesy of Robert Knuth)

By Alison Dirr
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The top lawyer for Milwaukee County can’t practice law at the moment because of a license suspension over a missed deadline by when she was supposed to show she had completed continuing legal-education requirements.

Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun said she failed to send in the documentation as she dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and local unrest over racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.

Her license was suspended as of June 16, according to the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners.

“I completed the required coursework, but did not send in the paperwork and fee on time,” she said in an email addressed to clients, stakeholders and colleagues. “I am awaiting receipt of certain documents, and once received, will submit the paperwork and fees to the Wisconsin bar.”

She said she expects to be reinstated around July 15 and said her staff is ensuring “zero disruption” to the function and operations of her office or the county.

In the meantime, she said she is not providing legal advice to her clients or staff until her license is reinstated.

Active lawyers in Wisconsin must complete 30 credits of continuing legal education, or CLE, every two years. They get credits from attending online and in-person courses and lectures and presentations. Three of the 30 credits must be on the topic of legal ethics.

The reporting period covers two full calendar years, and lawyers have until Feb. 1 of the third year to report their hours to the Board of Bar Examiners. Those who aren’t in compliance are given 60 days notice, and the administrative suspensions don’t go out until June, said Jacquelynn Rothstein, executive director of the BBE.

Typically, she said, around 2% of the lawyers miss the deadline, don’t respond to notices and get administratively suspended. The BBE notifies all the judges in the state which lawyers have been suspended. About 175 lawyers are named on the most recent suspension list, Rothstein said.

An administratively suspended lawyer may not practice law until his CLE hours are certified.

Suspensions over CLE requirements do not involve other rules of profession responsibility, or lawyer ethics. Such violations can result in more serious, longer suspensions by the Supreme Court, usually after investigation and prosecution by the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr.

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