PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A former Broward County judge has been disbarred for her conduct before she wore a robe.
Laura Watson is no longer entitled to practice law in the state of Florida, the Florida Bar announced Friday.
Watson was removed from office by the Florida Supreme Court in June 2015 because of her actions as an attorney before she was elected judge.
The Florida Bar said Watson violated numerous bar rules, including failing to fully inform clients, not giving clients sufficient information to make decisions and failing to provide closing statements and place disputed funds in escrow.
A 16-page decision by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission said Watson "sold out her clients, her co-counsel and ultimately herself" while she was an attorney involved in insurance litigation involving Progressive, Gold Coast Orthopedics and her personal injury protection clients.
Watson was accused of secretly negotiating a settlement with Progressive that paid her firm $3 million, improperly cutting out fellow lawyers and shortchanging her clients, who received just $361,000.
The other attorneys sued Watson and won.
Watson was elected to the Broward County circuit court in 2012 and took office in 2013. She was first admitted to the Florida Bar in 1985.