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La Cañadan accused of overcharging client, misappropriating funds loses law license

La Cañada Flintridge attorney Robert Carlin Burlison, 66, was disbarred by the State Bar of California on Aug. 10 after being accused of committing multiple acts of wrongdoing, excessively overcharging legal fees and failing to make full restitution to a client he represented.
La Cañada Flintridge attorney Robert Carlin Burlison, 66, was disbarred by the State Bar of California on Aug. 10 after being accused of misappropriating funds, excessively overcharging a client and failing to make full restitution.
(Courtesy of the California Department of Insurance)

A La Cañada Flintridge attorney accused of misappropriating funds, excessively overcharging a client and failing to make full restitution has been disbarred and ordered to pay back the money he owes with interest.

Robert Carlin Burlison, 66, lost his law license Aug. 10.

The State Bar of California directed him to pay back the full amount he owes an estate administrator, $34,680, plus 10% interest.

Burlison could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

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Prior to disbarment, the Bar listed Burlison’s law license as inactive on Sept. 7, 2018. Disciplinary charges were formally filed against him that November. He was listed as ineligible to practice law on April 5, before his license was suspended last month for failing to pay bar fees.

Burlison was hired in July 2008 to represent the administrator of an estate in La Habra, according to documents from the State Bar Court of California.

He acted in that role for nearly a decade, overseeing a client trust account that included $95,000 in settlement funds from a lawsuit involving the administrator.

According to court documents, Burlison failed to tell probate court officials about the funds and improperly withdrew around $80,159 as payment for legal fees without seeking required approval.

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“[Burlison] willfully and intentionally misappropriated funds that [he] held in trust” and “thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude,” according to the State Bar.

Later on court officials approved a payment of $31,861 to Burlison for his legal fees and services.

However, he billed the administrator $139,152 for his work involving the estate instead of the significantly lower amount approved by the court, according to the Bar’s account of events.

Eventually the administrator filed a complaint with the Bar. Burlison responded to it by offering her a $60,319 settlement, according to the Bar.

He inaccurately argued that he was entitled to the rest of the settlement as compensation, when in fact, the difference belonged to the administrator, according to the Bar.

Burlison is also involved in an unrelated $1.2-million fraud case in Santa Barbara, where he is accused of grand theft and being an accessory to a crime. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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