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Milwaukee lawyer agrees to give up law license for 6 months, admits to misconduct

A Milwaukee lawyer has agreed to give up her law license for six months after converting a client’s settlement funds for personal use and committing other misconduct.

In a stipulation filed with the Office of Lawyer Regulation, Coral Dawn Pleas of Pleas Williams admitted to eight counts of misconduct related to her handling of a client’s two personal-injury cases.

The OLR filed a complaint against Pleas in April, accusing her of keeping the client’s $25,000 settlement and not taking action on a second claim, allowing the statute of limitations to expire.

By January 2018, the client’s health insurer had paid more than $38,000 for medical expenses related to both accidents. Pleas negotiated a reduction of the entire medical lien to $8,333 and sent the client a letter enclosing the release of claims, a settlement statement and a settlement check for $8,333. The settlement statement reflected that Pleas kept $8,333 in attorney’s fees.

Shortly after, the client’s new attorney sent Pleas a letter requesting the name of her errors and omissions carrier. The complaint said Pleas then apologized to the client for her handling of the case, refunded the attorney’s fee and agreed to pay off the $8,333 medical lien.

The OLR asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to suspend Pleas’ law license for six months for the misconduct. The agency said Pleas has shown remorse and accepted responsibility, but she still hasn’t paid the medical lien.

On Tuesday, the high court approved the stipulation and suspended Pleas’ law license for six months. The justices also ordered her to pay $8,333.33 in restitution.

“Attorney Pleas’ admitted acts are serious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in this state,” the opinion said. “We deem a six-month suspension sufficient to protect the public from Attorney Pleas’ unacceptable professional behavior, to ensure she will not repeat it, and to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct.”

The suspension goes into effect on Nov. 10. Pleas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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