DES MOINES – The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board ruled that Mason City attorney Kristy B. Arzberger violated the Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct for “collecting extraordinary fees” and suspended her law license.
In the resolution to this disciplinary case filed November 10, 2016, the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board charged the respondent, Kristy B. Arzberger, with a violation of Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct 32:1.5(a) (“A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses, or violate any restrictions imposed by law.”). This case arises from Arzberger charging and collecting extraordinary fees in a probate case without court approval. After a hearing, the commission recommended a thirty-day suspension.
The board concluded that Arzberger violated Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct 32:1.5(a).
“Based on the (facts of the case), the commission came to the double- barreled conclusion that Arzberger ‘charged and collected an unreasonable fee and violated restrictions imposed by law’ under rule 32:1.5(a). Taking into account the aggravating and mitigating factors, the commission recommended that Arzberger be suspended for thirty days.”
According to court records, Arzberger is a Mason City lawyer licensed to practice law in Iowa. She began practicing law in 1986 and has been in private practice as a solo practioner since 1988. Her practice has included family law, agribusiness matters, real estate, and probate work. Over the years, she has had a commendable record of public service and community activities in the Mason City area, including service on boards of directors of the Crisis Intervention Service, the Red Cross, Mason City Noon Rotary, Girl Scouts of North Iowa; the United Way Allocation Committee; and the foundation board of the North Iowa Area Community College. She has been active in church affairs, has mentored at-risk youth, and has provided pro bono legal work.
Arzberger has a prior history of private admonitions. In 2002, the Board privately admonished her for falsely telling a client that a petition for visitation rights had been forwarded to the sheriff for service. While Arzberger indicated that mistake was made by her secretary, the Board concluded that Arzberger failed to supervise nonlawyer personnel in connection with their communications with clients. In 2008, the Board privately admonished Arzberger for conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice when, in an appeal of a dissolution-of-marriage case, she ignored a notice of default for want of prosecution.