On Thursday, September 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of Illinois issued a decision regarding the motion filed by Stephen Oneil Willoughby to have his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. The court’s decision was based on Willoughby’s failure to act with competence and diligence in representing several clients, failure to communicate with or return unearned fees to several clients, and engagement in the unauthorized practice of law.
The case is entitled “In re: Stephen Oneil Willoughby,” and was brought by the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, case no. 2023PR00048.
The charges against Willoughby cite violations of Rules 1.1., 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.15(a)(8), 1.16(d), and 5.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the decision, Willoughby was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 7, 1973. However, he has failed to act with competence and diligence in representing several clients, failed to communicate with or return unearned fees to several clients, and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
The court’s decision was based on a statement of charges prepared by the Administrator and Willoughby’s affidavit in support of the motion. The statement of charges outlines several instances where Willoughby failed to appear in court for previously scheduled hearings, failed to file a verified accounting of administration as ordered by the court, and failed to communicate with clients.
The decision also notes that Willoughby has not had a functioning phone number or email address since moving out of his office in late November or early December 2022. Furthermore, he has failed to respond to client inquiries and has not refunded unearned fees to clients.
The court found that Willoughby’s conduct violates Supreme Court Rule 762(a), which states that a lawyer who engages in misconduct or fails to act with competence and diligence in representing clients may be subject to disciplinary action, including having their name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.
Based on the foregoing facts and discussion, the court granted Willoughby’s motion and ordered that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately.
Mr. Stephen Oneil Willoughby’s professional profile indicates that he had been working at Willoughby, Zachary & Jones with an office located in Decatur. He attended St. Louis University Law School. Willoughby had been admitted to the Illinois State Bar in 1973, license no. 3030628.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.