Shana Buchanan, extremely lazy Twin Cities lawyer, could be disbarred

UPDATE: Shana Buchanan was struck by a Green Line train in late August 2014. Hers is the first fatality recorded since the Green Line opened that June. Metro Transit released a statement concerning the incident, disclosing that "this is the third instance in which a Green Line train has contacted a pedestrian."

If the allegations made by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board are true, Shana Gail Buchanan had a pretty nice racket going for herself.

Over the past three years, Buchanan repeatedly agreed to take on a client's appeal, got paid -- then did absolutely no legal work and ignored her clients' efforts to communicate with her.

This couldn't go on forever, of course, and now the Responsibility Board is seeking public discipline against her -- meaning she could be disbarred from practicing law in Minnesota.

Four cases are highlighted in the petition for disciplinary action recently filed against Buchanan. In one, she agreed to represent someone during appeal who was convicted of first-degree murder -- pretty serious stuff. She accepted a retainer of $7,500, which was paid in full by May 2010. Yet she didn't do any legal work on her client's behalf for five months after getting paid, at which time she requested an additional $150 from her client to cover filing fees. The client inadvertently sent her two $150 checks, but instead of returning one of them, Buchanan cashed both.

By November of that year, despite repeated orders from the state Supreme Court to file briefs in the matter, Buchanan still hadn't done any work on the case. After she was finally removed as counsel, she failed to respond to requests to return transcripts to the convict's new attorney for months. At various points, she cited her ill health, lack of experience, and/or her grandmother's death to explain her utter failure to get anything done.

As the petition notes:

[Buchanan] ultimately failed to perform any legal services on behalf of [her client]... [Buchanan] has failed to refund the original $7,500 retainer for the appeal, the $1,500 she was paid to seek post-conviction relief, or the $300 duplicate payments for filing fees.

After one of her incommunicado spells, 8th circuit judges directed the court clerk to keep Buchanan out of their court.
After one of her incommunicado spells, 8th circuit judges directed the court clerk to keep Buchanan out of their court.

In another instance from around the same time, Buchanan agreed to represent a man who was convicted of wire fraud, money laundering, and failure to file income taxes during his appeal. Months after she had been paid over $5,000 by the client in May 2010, she still hadn't done any legal work. She repeatedly asked the court for extensions because, she said, she was busy relocating her law office -- a relocation that apparently took her months to complete. Finally, in October, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals removed her from the case. Appalled by her performance (or lack thereof), the judges went as far as ask the court clerk to "remove Ms. Buchanan's name from the roster of [attorneys] eligible for appointment to cases in this court." Despite doing nothing, she still to this day hasn't refunded any of the nearly $10,000 she received from that client, the petition says. 

To top it all off, some of Buchanan's alleged misconduct actually occurred after she lost her authorization to practice law due to failure to pay attorney registration fees.

According to MinnLawyer, Buchanan has until the middle of this month to respond to the petition, after which the Minnesota Supreme Court will presumably make a decision about whether to disbar her. And if the past is precedent, she'll almost surely fail to respond to the petition in time.

According to her website, Buchanan graduated from William Mitchell in 2004 and founded her own practice in 2006. Her story serves as a reminder that just because someone passes the bar exam doesn't mean they''ll perform competently as an attorney. Or, in Buchanan's case, perform at all.

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