August 08, 2005
Law Prof Consulting and Ethics
Posted by Joshua Wright

From ContractsProfBlog,the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded an inactive Wisconsin attorney doing work in Colorado and ordered him to return near $400,000 in fees he had earned pursuant to his agreement with his client.  The facts go something like this: Bolte (the attorney) told the client that he was not licensed to practice, couldn't appear in court, and that she would have to hire a lawyer to pursue any legal claims.  She agreed and they signed an agreement that Bolte would: "investigate, examine, copy, analyze and interpret" documents relating to her lease.  Bolte advised the client that she had a good claim, she hired a lawyer and sued, winning nearly $ 2 million.  Bolte received $388,000 under the agreement.  The client soon thereafter demanded that he renounce all future payments or else she would report him for unauthorized practice.  He refused and she sued in Colorado claiming that their agreement was unenforceable, eventually getting the $388,000 back.  Bolte then did something that was plainly stupid: he transferred his property to a friend in an attempt to avoid the judgment.  In a grievance filed against Bolte in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that Bolte's work constituted unauthorized practice and gave him a reprimand.

I imagine the number of law profs that are not licensed in the state they teach but still do manage to do some consulting here and there is quite large.  My immediate response to this story was to find out the rules on waiving into the VA and DC bars...

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