TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Beverly Hills attorney Wallace Biestrum Anderson Jr, practicing in Florida for about nearly 39 years, has been suspended for 91 days following a Feb. 22 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he asked two of his clients for an advance on fees, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Anderson created a conflict of interest when he asked two sisters whom he represented in a probate case for an advance payment toward his attorney fees so he could pay his bills," the state bar said in its March 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "He also charged clearly excessive fees. An audit of his trust account records found that he was not in substantial compliance with bar rules and he failed to maintain minimum required trust accounting records."
In its two-page order, the state high court approved an uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before suspending Anderson and ordered him to pay almost $1,749 in costs.
Anderson's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect the interests of his existing clients, according to the order. Anderson also was ordered to pay $540 in restitution to the two clients.
In Florida, court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not alter the effective date of the Anderson's suspension.
Anderson was admitted to the Florida bar Sept. 19, 1979, according to his profile at the state bar website.
Anderson began representing the two sisters in 2011 in the contested probate proceedings of their mother's estate, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Anderson's conditional guilty plea.
There was no written agreement between Anderson and the sisters but there was an understanding between them that his fee would be $250 an hour, according to the judgment. In December 2014, Anderson shared with one of the sisters that he was enduring financial hardship and asked for an advance on his attorney fees. That created a conflict of interest with the sisters "by encouraging payment of his fees for his bills and debts," the judgment said.