It wasn’t that long ago that Shinders owner Robert Scott Weisberg had a life that would inspire envy: a profitable personal-injury law practice in downtown Minneapolis, a collections business in St. Louis Park, a beautiful home in Minnetonka and enough cash to buy the Shinders chain in 2003 from a relative.
Today, it’s nearly all gone.
The 45-year-old’s fall has been both personal and professional, from a divorce proceeding with his wife to the loss of his law firm last December, when his colleagues walked out, to last week’s collapse of the 91-year-old Shinders newsstand chain.
The state board that oversees attorney discipline has a 14-page petition before the Minnesota Supreme Court that could strip Weisberg of his law license. And in Hennepin County District Court, Weisberg faces two counts of drug possession.
Weisberg did not return repeated calls for an interview, but public records from his ongoing battles and interviews with people who know him describe a man who seemed to drop out of his own life just as problems began to mount at Shinders, which was losing money at the rate of $100,000 a month.
They describe someone who has misled people, including his own lawyer, his bank, his clients, his employees and his law partners. One man, told by Weisberg to come to his downtown Minneapolis office to pick up a settlement check in a personal-injury suit, arrived to find the office gone. Not just dark, but empty of desks and people, according to a professional investigation into his law practice.
In 2003 Weisberg became embroiled in a nasty fight with his law colleagues at the law firm. A former client had accused Weisberg of mishandling her case. Her complaint prompted a hearing that March before the Hennepin County Ethics Board, which handles such investigations.
Attorney and colleague Thomas Miller went to his boss’ defense. Miller used notes from the firm’s records showing that Weisberg had done a number of things on the client’s behalf, despite her complaint that Weisberg wasn’t working on her case.