Attorneys Can Be Punished Too
Posted on Jun 21, 2012 in Bankruptcy, Wisconsin
Debtors who make serious omissions or lies on their bankruptcy schedules can face angry judges, trustees, and attorneys. But attorneys who continue to make serious mistakes can also get punished by the judges. This happens in bankruptcy when lawyers, charged with helping guide debtors through a difficult process, make so many mistakes that they harm more people than they help.
Recently, one Milwaukee attorney was punished, and the punishment made the pages of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Talk about bad advertising! Attorney Emory Booker was actually fined twice – once for overcharging clients, and another for making multiple mistakes.
Attorneys have an important duty to make sure that they act in good faith to help their clients. If they put their clients in worse spots than they began with, or take too much money given what they offer (legal analyses but not paperwork preparation or actual legal representation), then judges will criticize them publicly and make them return their fees. It’s a reminder that honest debtors, diligent trustees, and careful attorneys all make the system work properly.
Also, it’s a reminder that you’ll get what you pay for. Mr. Booker was charging much less than attorneys typically do, because he wasn’t actually representing them ethically. He was meeting with them and guiding them into bankruptcy — but not through bankruptcy. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little more to get an honest attorney.