On Thursday, December 29, 2022, the State of Minnesota Supreme Court suspended Minneapolis attorney Staci L. Kelley for failure to govern the conduct of other lawyers in her law firm.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Staci L. Kelly”, and was brought by the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility with case no. A22-0790.

The charges cited Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), 1.15(h), 1.3, 1.4(a)(3-4), 1.16(d), 3.4(c), 8.1(b), 8.4(d) and Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility Rule 25.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

It was alleged that the respondent failed to have adequate measures governing the conduct of other lawyers, in her capacity as a partner in the law firm, resulting in the firm’s failure to keep required the required trust account books and records. Moreover, the firm also failed to have adequate systems and policies in place to communicate the departure of a firm lawyer to a client and to ensure the safekeeping of client funds.

The filing states:

“Upon information and belief, the respondent did not personally maintain the Cornerstone trust account books and records. However, as a partner of Cornerstone, the respondent was required to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm had in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the conduct of all persons in the firm conformed to the MRPC. Respondent failed to do so.”

The filing continues:

“On April 29, 2021, the court and opposing counsel expected the respondent to appear because the respondent had not filed a notice of withdrawal. When she did not 17. appear, court staff attempted to reach the respondent, without success. Court staff also attempted to reach attorney H.R. of Cornerstone who was listed on the original certificate of representation, but Cornerstone staff reported that. was no longer with the firm.”

The filing further states:

“In a December 3, 2020, email to the respondent’s then-counsel regarding the Cornerstone accounts, the Director asked when the respondent would provide the supporting information and documents to her complaint and for a status update on the audit Cornerstone was undertaking of its accounts. Respondent’s then-counsel replied that the accountant working on the matter indicated J.V.B. did not perform monthly reconciliations and therefore was looking as far back as 2016 to reconcile the trust account. Counsel said that the respondent would send the books and records to the Director when the account was reconciled, and it was expected to be by the end of the following week. Respondent failed to do so.”

The court after finding these facts, issued an Order deeming the said allegations in the Petition admitted. The parties were ordered to submit Memoranda on the appropriate discipline that should be imposed. However, only the complainant, the Director, had filed a memorandum. Thus, warranting a suspension for the respondent.

The Disposition states:

“Respondent Staci L. Kelley is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law, effective 14 days from the date of this order, with no right to petition for reinstatement for 6 months.”

As of today, Ms. Kelley is listed on the website of the law firm Cornerstone Family Law as a practicing attorney. Her info can be found on Linkedin. She attended the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, graduating in 2011. Ms. Kelley practices in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is licensed in Minnesota.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.