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Firm Challenges Order to Disclose Client List

MADISON, Wis. (CN) - The Williamson Law Firm has filed a petition in Dane County Court to stop a Wisconsin banking agency from forcing it to disclose client information and cease operations until its administrative arm becomes a licensed "adjustment service company." The firm says it helps debtors settle their debts, but does not provide adjustment services.

The banking division of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions allegedly directed the firm and affiliated attorney Kimberly Stockinger to disclose the names of their clients after receiving two consumer complaints.

By representing debtors with similar interests, the plaintiffs use their multiple clients as leverage to negotiate better settlements.

Williamson and local attorney Stockinger hired Morgan Drexen Integrated Legal Systems to provide administrative support.

The department ordered Morgan Drexen to stop doing business in Wisconsin until it obtained a license as an adjustment service company, defined by state law as a company "engaged ... in the business of prorating the income of a debtor to the debtor's creditor or creditors."

The plaintiffs say they don't do any prorating.

They add that the department has no authority to regulate attorneys, and the information sought by the department is confidential.

They are represented by G. Michael Halfenger with Foley & Lardner.

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