The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin
Supreme Court, provides these summaries for educational
purposes. The OLR assists the court in supervising the practice
of law and protecting the public from misconduct by lawyers.
Find the full text of these summaries at www.wicourts.gov/olr.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Thomas D. Vaitys
On Aug. 22, 2019, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted an SCR 22.19 petition for consensual license revocation filed by Thomas D. Vaitys, formerly of Milwaukee. Vaitys’ petition acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against allegations of professional misconduct set forth in a pending complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and in two grievances that have not yet been fully investigated by the OLR. In addition to revoking Vaitys’ law license, the court also ordered Vaitys to pay restitution totaling $72,097.51 and to pay the $4,703.85 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Vaitys, 2019 WI 85.
The OLR’s complaint included 12 counts of misconduct arising from Vaitys' representation of a client with cognitive and comprehension difficulties who had entrusted to Vaitys $161,269.23 of settlement funds and seven counts related to Vaitys’ handling of other clients’ and third parties’ funds.
Vaitys acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against allegations that he violated the following rules: SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) by failing to timely communicate in writing to the client the scope of the representation and the rate and basis of his fees; SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4) by failing to clearly and accurately communicate with the client about Vaitys’ disbursements from and handling of the client’s funds; SCR 20:8.4(c) by converting client and third-party funds to his own use or for the use of other clients or third parties, falsely holding himself out as trustee of a client’s special needs trust, causing an attorney to sign an affidavit containing false information, and making misrepresentations to the OLR during its initial evaluation of a grievance; SCR 20:1.5(a) by charging a client for services that were not reasonably billable to the client; and SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) by depositing client and third-party funds into his business account, depositing personal funds into his IOLTA trust account, using client funds to pay obligations to other clients or third parties, and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that co-counsel’s billing statements were accurate before paying the same from their mutual client’s funds.
Vaitys acknowledged that he also could not successfully defend against allegations that he violated the following rules: former SCR 20:1.15(d)(1) by failing to provide clients and third parties with written notice of his receipt of funds in which they had an interest and by failing to promptly deliver funds to clients and third parties; former SCR 20:1.15(d)(2) by failing to provide a client with accurate, written accountings upon request; former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)c. by making then-prohibited internet banking transactions related to trust accounts; SCR 20:1.3 by failing to timely file a client’s brief or to timely file for an extension of time to file the brief; and SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h), by making misrepresentations to the OLR, presenting an affidavit to the OLR that contained a false assertion, and failing to fully and fairly disclose to the OLR all facts and circumstances pertaining to his alleged misconduct.
Vaitys also acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against allegations being investigated in two pending OLR grievance matters.
Vaitys has no prior discipline.