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Evidently, failing to read the fine print isn’t a valid excuse for lawyers either. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended the license of a former Quarles & Brady partner who argued that he kept $230,000 in trustee fees because he failed to read the law firm’s partnership agreement and didn’t know that he was required to turn over the money to the firm. In adopting a sanction tougher than the one recommended by a referee in the case, Wisconsin’s highest court prohibited Jeffrey Elverman from practicing law for nine months. The court determined that the referee’s recommendation of a public reprimand was too lenient because Elverman retained the trustee fees and knowingly did not report them as income on his tax returns. According to Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Elverman, No. 2006AP1062-D, issued earlier this month, Elverman was a partner at Milwaukee-based Michael Best & Friedrich at the time of the decision. However, a person answering the phone said that he no longer worked at the law firm. Contacted at the Elverman Law Group, he declined to comment on the court’s decision. His suspension begins May 12. The fees at issue related to his handling of about $2.3 million involved in various trusts for the estate plan of a client. Elverman testified that he “briefly reviewed” the partnership agreement and that he “kept it buried” in his office desk. At a hearing last year on the matter, Quarles & Brady managing partner at the time, Patrick Ryan, testified that the partners didn’t “fly speck” individual provisions of the agreement, according to the decision. The firm operated on trust, he said.

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