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Supreme Court revokes attorney’s license, says profession has ‘no place’ for his behavior

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has revoked the law license of a western Wisconsin attorney with a “considerable” disciplinary history, writing that the legal profession has “no place” for his unethical behavior.

Christopher Petros, a solo practitioner at Petros Law Firm in Hudson, can no longer practice law in Wisconsin, as of the high court’s order on June 9. This is his fourth disciplinary punishment in Wisconsin in the last six years.

In the latest complaint, the Office of Lawyer Regulation charged Petros with 16 counts of misconduct in April 2020. The allegations included accepting advanced fee payments from clients despite being appointed to their cases by the State Public Defender, practicing with a suspended law license and failing to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation.

According to the high court’s opinion, Petros responded to the OLR’s 80-paragraph complaint with one sentence that denied all of the allegations.

Petros didn’t appear at a status conference for his case, and at the hearing, the OLR’s counsel reported that it did not hear from Petros for months. The opinion said Petros also didn’t respond to an order to file any objections to a motion for entry of default judgment and disregarded other deadlines.

The referee recommended license revocation, and the state Supreme Court agreed. The opinion said Petros’ behavior showed a “clear pattern of misconduct” since his licensure in Wisconsin in 2009.

He lost his law license for 90 days in 2014 as reciprocal discipline for misconduct in Minnesota, received a consensual public reprimand in 2017 and had his law license suspended for two years in 2020 for what was described as a “pattern of neglect” to his clients’ needs.

“Attorney Petros appears uninterested in honest, responsible advocacy, and tends to dodge or disappear altogether when called to account for his actions,” the opinion said. “Our profession has no place for persons who cannot be counted on to follow the basic standards and procedures set forth in our ethical rules.”

In addition to the revocation, the state Supreme Court ordered Petros to pay $5,000 in restitution to a client who paid an unnecessary advanced fee. Petros also must pay full costs of the disciplinary proceeding, which totaled $3,910.22 as of February.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Bar of Wisconsin records indicate Petros’ Wisconsin law license is also administratively suspended for failing to pay dues, failing to complete continuing legal education requirements and failing to have OLR certification.

About Michaela Paukner, [email protected]

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at [email protected]

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