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Getting In Trouble: The Severe Sanctions; 2008-2010, Part Five

Part Five: “And a Day” Term Suspensions

In this segment of our study on bar discipline, we evaluate suspensions from the perspective of a legal malpractice lawyer. If you read a list of bar discipline results, you would notice something strange about the suspensions. Three month and one day. Six months and one day. A year and one day. Why the penchant for suspending lawyers for “x and one day”? Would 365 days be too light a punishment, while one year and two days would be clearly excessive?

Six Month Attorney Suspensions

Not exactly. The reason for the dramatic-sounding term suspension of one year and one day (or the even more curious “six months and one day”) has everything to do with the path to reinstatement.

In the event that an attorney is suspended for six months or less, at the conclusion of this suspension, she or he may then be reinstated following the filing of an affidavit to the BBO stating that you have fully complied with the suspension including that you have repaid all debts to the Clients’ Security Board regarding the misconduct.

Six Month Plus Suspensions

In the event that an attorney is suspended for more than six months, but less than one year, he or she must complete the above plus pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam.

Following completion of either of the above, an attorney is reinstated ten days after he or she files the affidavit.  Of course, Bar Counsel retains the right to file a notice of objection, in which case must be dealt with first.

Long Term BBO Suspensions

For “long-term suspensions” which are more than one year, you need to undertake all of the above, plus the attorney must petition for reinstatement. The petition must include information and proof that you have made restitution any and all clients that you have harmed. A bond may be necessary.

An attorney suspended for a long term has the burden of convincing the BBO that that he or she has the moral qualifications, competency, and learning in law which was initially required for admission; further, that allowing you to practice law will not be against public interest, detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar, or to the administration of justice.

Remorse After Improper Act Critical Too

What type of violation results in a long-term suspension? Here’s an example: A litigator wanted to sign up for referral services, but didn’t want to pay for the required malpractice insurance. He lied for eight years, claiming to have the needed insurance, and forged documents to support the lie. When caught, he showed no remorse, which was an aggravating factor. This attorney will have plenty of time during suspension to prepare for the onerous process of reinstatement.