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Milwaukee attorney loses law license in scathing Supreme Court decision

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 1, 2024//

(Deposit Photos)

Milwaukee attorney loses law license in scathing Supreme Court decision

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 1, 2024//

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Milwaukee Attorney Paul Strouse won’t be practicing law anytime soon in the Badger State after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a scathing decision revoking his law license recently.

“Attorney Strouse’s misconduct is disturbing,” the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in a per curiam opinion.

“Attorney Strouse appears uninterested in honest, responsible advocacy, and tends to dodge . . . when called to account for his actions,” the Supreme Court 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,” the Wisconsin Supreme Court said.

In a concurring opinion by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler, the Justice pointed out: “I write separately to point out that in Wisconsin the ‘revocation’ of an attorney’s law license is not truly revocation because the attorney may petition for readmittance after a period of five years. See SCR 22.29(2). I believe that when it comes to lawyer discipline, courts should say what they mean and mean what they say. We should not be creating false perceptions to both the public and to the lawyer seeking to practice law again,” Ziegler said.

Justices Rebecca Bradley, Brian Hagedorn, and Jill Karofsky joined the concurrence.

Referee V.L. Bailey-Rihn issued a report recommending that the court declare Strouse in default and revoke his license to practice law in Wisconsin due to professional misconduct. The referee also recommended Strouse pay the full costs associated with the proceeding, amounting to $2,456.45 as of Nov. 28, 2023.

Bailey-Rihn noted in the report, “Strouse also willingly allowed a disbarred attorney to practice law in direct contradiction of the relevant statutes prohibiting such conduct and failed to keep a client informed of his case.”

Noting no appeal had been filed, the Supreme Court reviewed the referee’s report pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.17(2). The Court ultimately decided revocation of Strouse’s license was an appropriate sanction for his professional misconduct. The court also agreed with the referee that Strouse should be assessed the full costs of this proceeding, according to court documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

On June 12, 2023, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) filed a complaint against Strouse, alleging nine counts of misconduct. The first three counts arose out of his use of another attorney’s notary stamp and his misrepresentations to a court.

In 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions revoked Strouse’s notary commission, which he had held since 1992, according to court documents, which noted the revocation was based on the administrative suspension of Strouse’s law license due to his failure to comply with mandatory continuing legal education reporting requirements.

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The court also noted Strouse had been practicing law since 1992 and previously received three public reprimands and a suspension.

According to documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal, in 2010, Strouse received a public reprimand for misconduct that included failing to keep clients reasonably informed of the status of their cases, failing to respond to a client’s requests for information and falsifying a bankruptcy discharge order and failing to clarify he origin of the falsified document when asked by the court.

Less than a year later, Strouse received a second public reprimand for his conduct in a bankruptcy matter, which included a lack of diligence, failure to keep a client reasonably informed of the status of the case, failing to respond to the client’s requests for information and failing to explain a matter to the extent necessary for the client to make informed decisions.

Four years later, Strouse received a third reprimand for practicing law while his license was suspended for 10 days due to noncompliance with the continuing legal education requirement, and failing to disclose to the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners on his reinstatement petition that he had filed two bankruptcy petitions during the period of his suspension.

Then, after three public reprimands, Strouse also received a 60-day suspension in 2015 for his conduct in four bankruptcy matters. The seven counts of misconduct for which he was suspended included failing to provide a receipt for or properly safeguard property of a client or third person, failing to communicate the scope and basis for fees, failing to consult with a client regarding the means by which objectives of the representation were to be pursued, failing to explain matters sufficiently to enable a client to make informed decisions regarding the representation and failing to respond to a client’s requests for information.

Reviews on Google of Stroue’s firm were a mixture of praise and criticism.

The Wisconsin Law Journal attempted to reach Strouse on Friday but received a message that his voicemail box was full. He did not respond to an email request for comment prior to publication.


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