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Solo practitioner hit with 2-year license suspension for ‘pattern of neglect’

Solo practitioner hit with 2-year license suspension for ‘pattern of neglect’

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a western Wisconsin solo practitioner’s law license for two years, citing a “clear pattern of neglect” in his response to his clients’ needs.

Wednesday’s decision is the latest development in the lengthy disciplinary history of Christopher Petros, an attorney at Petros Law Office in Hudson.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint accusing Petros of 17 attorney-ethics violations in March 2019, and the OLR later amended the complaint to 24 counts of misconduct related to seven client matters.

The OLR accused Petros of allegedly failing to appear in court in a case he was appointed to by the State Public Defender’s Office, failing to respond to a SPD client’s request for information about his case, lying to the SPD’s office about his work on the case and failing to hold more than $22,000 of a client’s money in trust, among other attorney-ethics violations.

In November, Petros pleaded no contest to all 24 counts of misconduct and stipulated to a two-year license suspension. He also stipulated that he owed $24,000 to the Wisconsin Lawyer’ Fund for Client Protection.

In the state Supreme Court’s opinion released Wednesday, the justices said a two-year suspension was appropriate given the seriousness of Petros’ actions.

“The undisputed facts show a clear pattern of neglect by Attorney Petros of his clients’ needs and objectives and disregard of his obligations as an attorney,” the opinion said.

Petros has 60 days to pay the $24,000 in restitution and $4,387.44 in costs of the proceeding.

The referee proposed Petros’ future reinstatement be conditioned upon preventing Petros from practicing solo and/or monitoring his practice and trust account. The high court said it would revisit the recommendations if Petros seeks reinstatement.

Reinstatement may not be a possibility for Petros. The OLR is asking for revocation of his law license in another pending disciplinary matter for an additional 16 counts of  alleged misconduct.

Petros was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 2009. He received a 90-day law license suspension in 2014 as reciprocal discipline for misconduct violations in Minnesota and a public reprimanded in 2017 for failing to prepare a contract, among other violations.

His Wisconsin license remains under administrative suspension for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements. His Minnesota law license is also currently suspended, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion.

Petros did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Justice Dan Kelly did not participate in the decision.

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