law

WSBA investigates Bellevue attorney for misconduct allegations

Bellevue, Washington

A Bellevue attorney that has been practicing law since 2002 in Washington State mainly representing client in the field of family law is currently being investigated by the Washington State Bar Association for alleged misconduct.

Juliana Un-kyung Wong, who also uses the alias Julie Choi, is accused by another attorney of misconduct, which led to an investigation being launched by the bar in early 2022. According to the allegations, Wong engaged in aggressive tactics against her opponents in ways that violate several rules of conduct and values that the bar expects its members to uphold. The tactics included various threat and intimidation practices, as well as soliciting two therapists to serve as witnesses in her case, leading them to commit ethical violations as well. One of these therapists, Dominique Walmsley of Seattle Mind Counseling has been investigated by the Washington State Department of Health, which found her conduct to be in breach of ethics and sanctioned her in late 2021.

Ms. Wong’s actions led a judge presiding on a case where Wong was practicing to reprimand Wong and her second-chair Aleksander (Sacha) Schilbach. Our staff has obtain a court transcript of the case, which was tried on May 27 2021 during which comissioner Jason Holloway said: “…And I will say not to put too big a point on this, but I will say that it was Ms. Wong in front of me, counsel, I might be inclined to sanction and award sanctions for submitting hearsay, relying an entire motion on hearsay, yet providing no briefing on why hearsay should be admissible in this case. That is something that is sanctionable, but I realize you’re the associate on this case. I’m not going to do that this time, but you and Ms. Wong are on notice, that next time I hear a motion where it’s all based on hearsay, someone is going to be bringing their checkbook to the court, OK?”

Opposing Ms. Wong was attorney Aerez Benari, who brought the matter to the WSBA for investigation. The case, which concluded in Benari’s favor due to the misconduct by Wong, was an uncommon case in which Benari was accused of practicing a lifestyle known as “polyamory”. John P. Lycette Jr, an attorney familiar with the case, said: “Polyamory, despite being rare, is a legal practice that is quite common in our area, so this case even reaching trial was quite peculiar, in my opinion. Regardless, having listened to the court recording, I was quite appalled. Our profession always struggles with reputation issues, and the last thing we need is a lawyer publicly conducting themselves in this manner.”

The WSBA declined to comment on the matter, since it is an ongoing investigation. Mr. Benari declined to comment as well. Our staff was unable to reach neither Ms. Wong nor Mr. David Lawyer, managing partner of Inslee Best Doezie & Ryder of Bellevue, the firm that employs Ms. Wong and Mr. Schilbach. This story will be updated upon conclusion of the proceedings by the WSBA.

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