Friday, May 25, 2007
A solo practicioner who is suspended from practice is required, as are all suspended lawyers, to comply with rules relating to notification of clients, opposing parties and courts and withdrawal from all pending matters. A short suspension of a lawyer who has no partners to assume the active cases can destroy a law practice. Some jurisdictions require that the lawyer file an affidavit demonstrating compliance with these obligations. In D.C., the suspension is not deemed to commence, for purposes of reinstatement eligibility, until the affidavit is filed. Some lawyers never file the affidavit, and thus never get credit for the time served.
The Illinois ARDC Review Board just decided a disciplinary case that involved a solo with an active family law practice. The Board found that the lawyer, after suspension, had failed to comply with the requirements imposed on a suspended attorney. The Board recommends a suspension of six months. The Board rejected the contention that the lawyer had relied on advice of counsel in the post-suspension conduct as a defense.
A lawyer who is suspended and continues to practice law in violation of the order of suspension may also be subject to charges of criminal contempt. The penalty for such unauthorized practice may involve imprisonment. (Mike Frisch)