Newport Beach attorney faces disbarment over misappropriation, trust accounts allegations

By Karen Kidd | May 15, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Longtime Newport Beach attorney William West Seegmiller faces disbarment following an California Supreme Court order in April and allegations of misappropriation and mishandling trust accounts, according to a recent report issued by the State Bar of California and court documents.

The court's disbarment order will be effective May 26, according to a recent announcement on the State Bar of California's website. Seegmiller also was ordered to pay costs.

Seegmiller was admitted to the bar in California on Aug. 21, 1981, according to his profile at the state bar website.

Allegations against Seegmiller stem from dramatic dips in the balance of two client trust accounts in 2017, according to the stipulation filed with the state bar court in January. Both dips were caused by misappropriation and occurred before clients and providers were paid their portions of settlement funds, according to the stipulation.

The misappropriations were a result of Seegmiller's "recklessness in failing to maintain proper client trust accounting records and failing to supervise his staff with respect to their handling of his client trust accounts," the stipulation said.

At the time of his stipulation, Seegmiller faced state bar proceeding over a case filed in December 2015.

"Despite having been on notice of problems with his handling of entrusted funds, [Seegmiller] continued to fail to maintain proper records, supervision and control of his client trust accounts," the stipulation said. "The financial records for [Seegmiller]'s client trust accounts demonstrate that, ultimately, all of the settlement funds in the matters set forth in this stipulation were properly disbursed to clients and the lienholders."

Seegmiller had three prior records of discipline, according to the stipulation. He was publicly reproved in November 2004 after he allegedly allowed chiropractors to pay his legal advertising costs between 1996 and 1998. In that discipline Seegmiller also allegedly accepted representation of five clients in a personal injury matter who had potential conflicts of interests.

In January 2009, Seegmiller was publicly reproved following alleged misconduct in Nevada in which he allegedly allowed a non-attorney to engage in the unauthorized practice of law without his supervision.

In Febuary 2017, Seegmiller received a stayed one-year suspension and two years' probation with 90 days of actual suspension after he allegedly failed to promptly pay a medical bill.

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