In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Brandon Buchanan, Attorney at Law:
Brandon Buchanan, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
Proceedings Against Buchanan
disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.
We review Referee Allan E. Beatty's recommendation that
the court declare Attorney Brandon Buchanan in default and
suspend his Wisconsin law license for a period of 60 days for
professional misconduct in connection with his work on one
client matter and his non-cooperation with the Office of
Lawyer Regulation's (OLR) investigation into that
misconduct. The referee also recommended that Attorney
Buchanan be required to make restitution to a former client
in the amount of $335, and to pay the full costs of this
proceeding, which total $410.44 as of February 12, 2018.
Because no appeal has been filed, we review the referee's
report pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.17(2) . After
conducting our independent review of the matter, we agree
with the referee that, based on Attorney Buchanan's
failure to answer the complaint filed by the OLR, the OLR is
entitled to a default judgment. We also agree with the
referee that Attorney Buchanan's professional misconduct
warrants a 60-day suspension of his Wisconsin law license.
Finally, we agree with the referee that Attorney Buchanan
should be ordered to pay the full costs of the proceeding, as
well as $335 in restitution.
Attorney Buchanan was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin
in 2014. His law license is currently subject to
administrative and temporary suspensions. It is
administratively suspended due to his failure to pay
mandatory bar dues, failure to file a trust account
certification, and failure to comply with continuing legal
education requirements. It is temporarily suspended due to
his failure to cooperate in the OLR's investigation of
On September 28, 2017, the OLR filed the current complaint
against Attorney Buchanan. The complaint alleges five counts
of professional wrongdoing. The following facts are taken
from the OLR's complaint.
In 2014, S.L.L. filed for divorce from her husband. In
September 2015, Attorney Daniel R. Freund referred S.L.L. to
Attorney Buchanan to represent her and her husband, K.C.L.,
in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action. In November 2015, the L.s
hired Attorney Buchanan and paid him a $1, 835 advanced fee,
which included funds to pay the $335 bankruptcy filing fee.
Consistent with a request by S.L.L., Attorney Freund asked
Attorney Buchanan to keep him informed about the bankruptcy
proceedings in light of the ongoing divorce action.
Attorney Buchanan did not deposit the L.s' payment into a
trust account; indeed, he did not have a client trust
account. The retainer agreement between the L.s and Attorney
Buchanan stated that he would deposit the fee into his
Attorney Buchanan failed to keep in regular contact with the
L.s. He did not respond to the L.s' requests for
information for a number of months after his retention. In
late February 2016, Attorney Buchanan communicated with the
L.s, but his responsiveness was short-lived. In May 2016, he
again stopped responding to the L.s' requests for
information, which included e-mails and telephone calls.
Attorney Buchanan performed some legal work in the matter,
but never filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for the L.s.
In June 2016, the L.s fired Attorney Buchanan and instructed
him to deliver their file to Attorney Freund. Attorney
Buchanan did not deliver the L.s' file to Attorney
Freund, or refund any unearned portion of their advanced fee,
or provide them with an accounting.
Both Attorney Freund and S.L.L. filed grievances with the OLR
against Attorney Buchanan. The OLR wrote to Attorney Buchanan
informing him of the grievances and requesting a response.
Attorney Buchanan never responded. In January 2017, the OLR
personally served Attorney Buchanan at his home address with
correspondence from the OLR asking him to respond to Attorney
Freund's and S.L.L.'s grievances. Attorney Buchanan
did not respond.
In February 2017, based on an OLR motion, this court ordered
Attorney Buchanan to show cause why his license should not be
suspended for failure to cooperate with the OLR's
investigation. Attorney Buchanan did not respond. On April
10, 2017, this court temporarily suspended Attorney
The OLR's complaint alleged the following counts of
misconduct with respect to Attorney ...