OLYMPIA — A Wenatchee attorney had her license suspended by the Washington Supreme Court and now faces disbarment for allegedly misleading clients and paying herself unearned money out of a legal settlement.
The high court agreed last month to suspend Julie Ann Anderson, 60, effective June 1. A Washington State Bar Association disciplinary board found Anderson had committed 16 counts of professional misconduct by settling a claim without her client's authorization, and spending nearly $3,000 of the $12,000 settlement on herself.
The case stemmed from a 2010 auto accident, in which the client amassed significant medical bills and sued the other motorists' insurance firm to recover the costs. The bar association said Anderson did not have the client's consent when she agreed to the $12,000 settlement in July 2012.
Anderson deposited the $12,000 into a trust account, but then made nine disbursements to herself, using some to pay her own travel expenses in California. The client fired Anderson that September, but Anderson continued to withdraw money from the trust, the WSBA said. She never provided a settlement statement, and by August the trust had been drained to just over $7,600, with more than $1,700 unaccounted for.
The client found another lawyer who obtained a $31,000 settlement from the insurers in 2015. Anderson had to repay the $12,000 settlement she had negotiated, and tapped into another client's trust fund for almost $3,000 to meet the payment amount.
The WSBA's Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed its complaint against Anderson in January 2018, and Anderson did not challenge any of the facts presented in the proceedings. The bar association's disciplinary board petitioned the Supreme Court last March to suspend Anderson's law license as a prelude to disbarment.
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013