Prominent KC lawyer James C. Wirken is disbarred

The Missouri Supreme Court has disbarred James C. Wirken, a prominent Kansas City lawyer, for improperly taking loans from clients and not properly keeping their money safe.

The court announced the disbarment in an order issued Friday.

Wirken, a figure on the Kansas City legal scene since 1970, offered to surrender his law license in late September after state disciplinary authorities accused him of borrowing money without informing the clients of the fairness of the transactions, advising them to seek independent legal advice or obtaining the client’s written informed consent to the loans.

“The money ‘borrowed’ from the seven clients, not taking into account any accrued interest, totals in the neighborhood of $800,000,” according to a report from the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel to the Missouri Supreme Court. “Virtually none of the money, much less any interest, has been repaid.”

Wirken said Tuesday that he has paid back, or is paying back, all of his clients.

“There were a couple of i’s that needed dotting and t’s that needed crossing, and I didn’t do it,” Wirken said. “Therefore, I have to pay the price for that. A couple of loans were made and I didn’t jump through all the hoops.”

Wirken, 68, said he has converted his law practice into a consulting firm, advising other attorneys on litigation.

“I’m busier now that I was before, but I don’t have to put up with the baloney,” Wirken said.

A former president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Wirken was active with state and national lawyers associations and was a frequent continuing legal education lecturer.

Last year Wirken defended a Taiwanese envoy to Kansas City who pleaded guilty to committing fraud in foreign labor contracting for mistreating two Filipina housekeepers at her Overland park home.