In the Disciplinary Matter Involving KENNETH D. ALBERTSEN, Attorney.
File Nos. 2016D096/2016D101
Driscoll Alaska Bar Association
Murtagh Counsel for Respondent Attorney
BAR ASSOCIATION Louise R. Driscoll Assistant Bar Counsel
Kenneth D. Albertsen Respondent
M. Murtagh Attorney for Respondent
Kenneth D. Albertsen Respondent
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger, and
Counsel for the Alaska Bar Association and attorney Kenneth
D. Albertsen entered into a stipulation for discipline by
consent that would result in Albertsen's
two-year-and-one-day suspension from the practice of law in
Alaska. The Bar Association's Disciplinary Board approved
the stipulation and now recommends that we do so, as well,
and so suspend Albertsen. The facts of Albertsen's
misconduct are set forth in the stipulation, attached as an
appendix. We take these facts as true,
we apply our independent judgment to the sanction's
on the uncontested facts we agree with the legal analysis -
set out in the stipulation - that a two-year-and-one-day
suspension is an appropriate sanction for Albertsen's
D. Albertsen is suspended from the practice of law in Alaska
for a period of two years and one day, effective 30 days from
the date of this order. Within 60 days of this order
Albertsen must pay $1, 000 to the Alaska Bar Association for
disciplinary expenses incurred in this matter. Reinstatement
proceedings would be governed by Alaska Bar Rule 29(c). As a
condition of any future reinstatement, Albertsen must: (1)
provide a psychological evaluation addressing his ability to
practice law; (2) certify that he has completed continuing
legal education as specified in the stipulation; and (3)
prepare a detailed plan, acceptable to Bar Counsel, for
financial management, including an independent monitor, to be
followed for two years after reinstatement as outlined in the
by direction of the court.
FOR DISCIPLINE BY CONSENT PURSUANT TO ALASKA BAR RULE 22(H)
to Alaska Bar Rule 22(h), Kenneth D. Albertsen, Respondent,
and Louise R. Driscoll, Assistant Bar Counsel, stipulate as
Albertsen is an attorney at law admitted to practice by the
Supreme Court of Alaska, and a member of the Alaska Bar
Albertsen is subject to the Alaska Rules of Professional
Conduct (ARPC) and to Part II, Rules of Disciplinary
Enforcement, Alaska Bar Rules, giving the Alaska Supreme
Court and the Disciplinary Board of the Bar jurisdiction to
resolve this matter.
stipulation addresses professional misconduct involving
mishandling of client monies and neglect during
Albertsen's representation of clients. The Bar
investigated misconduct allegations in two grievances and
conducted an audit of Albertsen's law office accounts
during Bar disciplinary proceedings.
v. Albertsen ABA File No. 2016D096
May 13, 2008, client S.A. hired Albertsen to foreclose on her
late father's Alaska properties, including a house and a
lodge in rural Alaska that her father had originally owned.
was living in Texas when she asked Albertsen to start the
foreclosure proceedings. Albertsen did not tell her the total
fee to be charged, but he told her to forward a $2, 000
retainer upon hire. The parties never entered a written fee
agreement, but Albertsen periodically sent billing
statements. Albertsen and S.A. communicated by email and
Although a non-judicial foreclosure had been noticed, the
foreclosure sale was continued to allow the parties to
negotiate. As a result of the negotiations, approximately $2,
900 was recovered from the adverse parties to the
non-judicial foreclosure action.
Between January 2009 and June 2009, it became clearer to
Albertsen, a knowledgeable real estate law practitioner, that
a judicial foreclosure action would be required due to the
resistance of the adverse parties, as well as an allegation
of environmental contamination. Albertsen advised S.A. to
proceed with a judicial foreclosure so that she would not
wind up back in title to the properties. He also recommended
ending the non-judicial foreclosure.
Albertsen converted the matter from a non-judicial
foreclosure action to a judicial foreclosure action. He did
not advise S.A. of additional fees and costs she might incur
and they did not enter a written fee agreement. Albertsen
continued to send invoices regarding "non-judicial
Albertsen obtained a settlement of the judicial foreclosure
action in 2011. The settlement resulted in a confession of
judgment without action of $130, 000, plus pre-judgment
interest at the rate of 8% and post-judgment interest
accruing after entry of judgment. Judgment was entered on
August 26, 2011, and reflected pre-judgment interest of $11,
682, for a total judgment recovered of $141, 682.15. S.A.
participated by telephone in the settlement conference and
authorized the settlement.
Following the recovery of the judgment, Albertsen conducted a
judgment debtor exam. He notified S.A. by email of the exam
on July 2, 2012. S.A. called and left numerous messages for
Albertsen following the exam, but he did not respond.
Albertsen sent two additional invoices following the filing
of the judicial foreclosure complaint, one dated March 10,
2010, and one dated July 3, 2012. After the July 3, 2012
invoice, Albertsen did not communicate with S.A.
S.A. attempted to communicate with Albertsen over a period of
months as reflected by her email:
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated August 17, 2013,
requesting information on the case;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated November 5, 2013,
requesting information with no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated December 18, 2013,
requesting Albertsen to inform her about what was happening,
with no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen's office dated February
24, 2014, requesting somebody to call and let her know what
was happening, with no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated June 9, 2014,
requesting that Albertsen call, with no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated August 4, 2014,
requesting that Albertsen please call her, with no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated December 1, 2014,
requesting an update on litigation and judgment execution,
and noting that she had not received any money, with no
An email from S.A. to an Anchorage attorney dated August 8,
2014, stating that S.A. had called Albertsen to fire him and
request all files be turned over to new counsel which did not
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated March 9, 2015,
requesting information on foreclosure regarding the home, a
separate foreclosure action. Albertsen responded to this
email on March 17, 2015, stating that he would proceed;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated July 20, 2015,
requesting an update on foreclosure on the home, to which
there was no response;
An email from S.A. to Albertsen dated November 10, 2015,
stating that she was firing him as of December 1, 2015, and
requesting the files;
An email from Albertsen to S.A. dated December 3, 2015,
informing her that he was in trial preparation, but he
expected to get the files to new counsel by the following
Albertsen did not deliver the file and other property to S
.A. or the proposed substitute counsel. After Albertsen
ignored several telephone calls from the proposed substitute
counsel between November 2015 and December 2015, substitute
counsel declined the representation.
S.A. contacted another attorney for help. On February 3,
2016, that attorney wrote Albertsen that S.A. wanted him to
resolve outstanding real estate matters in Alaska so that she
could close an estate in Texas. Her Texas lawyers continued
to bill her on estate matters as long as the property matters
in Alaska remained open.
conducting a review, S.A.'s new attorney discovered that
garnishment proceedings had happened and that the court made
its first wage garnishment disbursement on November 17, 2014.
The court continued making wage and Permanent Fund Dividend
disbursements through 2014, 2015, and 2016 on a regular
S.A.'s attorney wrote Albertsen that CourtView showed
that Albertsen had received $25, 349.18 from garnishment of
bi-monthly paychecks, but S.A. had not received any proceeds
from the garnishment.
March 8, 2016, Albertsen forwarded S.A. a check in the amount
of $20, 000, along with a note stating he would complete his
review of the file and determine the balance when the file
was turned over to her new attorney. The court continued to
make wage garnishment disbursements to Albertsen.
Albertsen did not provide an accounting or a final balance to
S.A., but he sent file materials to her new counsel.
June 27, 2016, the Bar received an Attorney Grievance Form
filed by S.A. against Albertsen.
Counsel forwarded the grievance to Albertsen on June 30,
2016, asking for a voluntary response. Albertsen called the
Bar's office to request extensions of time to provide a
response on three occasions. He did not file a voluntary
August 31, 2016, Bar Counsel opened the grievance for a
formal investigation. Albertsen did not provide a mandatory
response as required under Alaska Bar Rule 22.
October 7, 2016, Bar Counsel notified Albertsen in writing
that the allegations in the matter were deemed admitted.
October 17, 2016, S.A. filed a petition for fee arbitration
against Albertsen, alleging she was overcharged the entire
amount of $13, 325.68 that she had paid Albertsen. She
alleged that Albertsen neglected her legal matters for
several years, withheld funds received into his trust account
on her behalf for years, and continued to withhold funds.
Albertsen did not answer the petition.
or about January 24, 2017, Albertsen sent S.A.'s attorney
a check in the amount of $19, 483.31 in trust for S.A.
disciplinary panel hearing was held on February 27, 2017.