by Brian Mahany
Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended St. Croix Falls lawyer Walsh Brandt’s license to practice law. He is ineligible to practice for the next four months. Afterwards, he must undergo any necessary monitoring and treatment for alcohol dependency. Everyone in society can suffer from alcoholism – we have seen lawyers, doctors, police officers and even judges who are alcoholics. The news isn’t the suspension of Walsh Bradley, it’s the system’s slow process in protecting the public.
The story regarding attorney Bradley didn’t begin and end yesterday in a Madison courtroom. It began almost two decades ago and involved multiple warnings and red flags.
According to the court’s opinion, Bradley was first reprimanded in 1994 for two ethics violations. Neither appear to be substance abuse related, although chemical dependency often leads to impaired judgment.
Nine years later, Brandt was reprimanded again for a series of ethical violations.
A year later in 2004 he was slapped yet again for “failure to provide competent representation” to a client.
If that’s not enough, in 2009 he was reprimanded for not reviewing his trust account records. Although not accused of stealing any money, by not checking the accounts another employee was able to steal $104,000 of client funds from his account. He was also reprimanded for a 3rd and 4th drunk driving conviction.
Brandt received a chemical dependency assessment that listed a diagnosis of “alcohol dependency in remission.” Apparently his drinking problems did not remain in remission for long. According to the court, 4 months later he was charged with felony drunk driving in Minnesota. That charge 2 years ago ultimately resulted in yesterday’s suspension.
Brandt’s past has finally caught up with him and hopefully the 4 months suspension will get his attention. (The Supreme Court’s decision to only reprimand him back in 2009 was not unanimous. Back then Justice Bradley sought to suspend his license instead of yet another reprimand.)
Brandt cooperated with the investigation and admits his problems with alcohol. We in no way make light of that admission and wish him the best. Our fear, however, is that for perhaps a decade or more Brandt may have been impaired and may have provided client’s with poor legal representation. His record certainly suggests that. He is not alone.
We are aware of one attorney locally who was arrested for driving to court drunk. That same attorney was also reportedly observed by someone passed out drunk under his desk.
Everyone knows that alcohol and driving don’t mix. Neither do alcohol and medicine, alcohol and firearms and alcohol and law. Hopefully, the Wisconsin Supreme Court can find away to speed up the disciplinary process while still protecting the rights of the accused lawyer. Clients have rights too and those rights aren’t properly served when the disciplinary process involves countless reprimands with no consequences.
The law firm of Mahany & Ertl represents victims of legal and accounting malpractice and many other types of fraud. If you believe you are the victim of professional malpractice or negligence, give us a call. Our fraud recovery lawyers have helped people across Wisconsin and the United States. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Services available in many jurisdictions.