The Iowa Supreme Court has suspended a Waterloo attorney’s license for 30 days for misconduct, mishandling retainers and failure to maintain adequate accounting records.
Sara Kersenbrock violated several rules of professional conduct, according to the ruling. Kersenbrock hasn’t been reprimanded by the grievance board in the past, but the court ruled the license suspension was warranted because she violated multiple ethic rules. According to the ruling, Kersenbrock didn’t maintain adequate records, so there was no way for the court to know if the violation was an isolated incident.
In July 2010, a former employee of Kersenbrock’s, Laura Anderson, filed a complaint with the board, claiming Kersenbrock mishandled client retainers and the complaint prompted an audit, according to the ruling. The audit showed Kersenbrock failed to properly deposit retainers into a client trust account, failed to prepare monthly reconciliations of the client accounts and falsely certified annual reports.
According to the ruling, Kersenbrock didn’t put retainers into client accounts, but instead placed them in book or drawer and spent the cash as needed, according to the ruling. The auditor testified she didn’t make regular deposits into her trust account. He cited two specific retainers and Kersenbrock admitted she didn’t deposit those into client trusts.
According to the rules of professional conduct, a lawyer should deposit legal fees and expenses paid in advance into a client account and should only be withdrawn when the fees are earned or expenses are incurred.
Kersenbrock admitted to the court inadequacies in record keeping and said she had taken steps to prevent the same mistakes in the future.