On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, the Supreme Court of California issued a final order suspending attorney Michael L. Guisti from the practice of law for one year, with the execution of the suspension stayed, and placing him on probation for one year.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Michael L. Guisti,” with case no. S282742.

The court’s order stems from disciplinary charges brought against Guisti by the State Bar of California arising from three separate client matters. According to the First Amended Notice of Disciplinary Charges filed in October 2021, Guisti committed multiple violations of California rules of professional conduct in his representation of clients Eunil Lim, Jin Woo Park, and Dr. Kenneth Wilkens.

In Lim’s matter, Guisti was alleged to have impermissibly designated a $10,000 retainer fee as “non-refundable,” failed to deposit the funds into his client trust account, and then failed to perform the work for which he was retained or refund the unearned fees after termination of the representation. Similar allegations were made regarding Guisti’s representation of Park, including failure to deposit $35,000 and $3,000 in advanced fees into trust, failure to account for or refund unearned portions of the funds, and lack of communication and incompetent performance of legal work.

In the Wilkens matter, Guisti was alleged to have improperly designated a $15,000 retainer as “non-refundable,” failed to deposit the funds into trust, and refused to return the client’s file or provide an accounting of the funds following termination of the representation. The charges also covered Guisti’s representation of Saleem, for which he designated a $6,000 fee as “non-refundable” but failed to account for or refund any portion of the fees after ending the attorney-client relationship.

Guisti faced a total of 33 counts of professional misconduct across the four client matters. The terms of his probation, as outlined in the Supreme Court’s order, require compliance with the conditions previously stipulated in the underlying State Bar Court proceeding aimed at protecting future clients and ensuring Guisti properly makes restitution.

According to the court order, Guisti must first serve a minimum 30-day actual suspension from practice before his probation will commence. He will remain suspended until he provides proof of an accounting to a former client, Shahid Saleem, and demonstrates compliance to the State Bar’s Office of Probation. If Guisti remains suspended for two or more years due to failure to satisfy this initial requirement, he must then show proof of rehabilitation, fitness to practice, and current legal knowledge and skills before the suspension can be terminated.

According to avvo.com, Mr. Guisti is a criminal defense attorney in Irvine, California. He attended the Western State University College of Law, graduating in 1998. He acquired his law license in California in 1999.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.