Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just Say No, Even To A Partner

As noted in a recent report in the ABA Journal, the profession is trending toward admission to practice on a conditional basis where there is evidence of past substance abuse, financial issues or other reasons to admit the applicant subject to a period of monitoring or supervision. The idea is that, after a period of time, the conditions would be lifted based on a reasonable assurance that the attorney is at no greater risk of an ethical lapse than any other bar member.

Arizona is a jurisdiction that may admit an attorney subject to conditions. A Hearing Officer's report in a matter involving a violation of conditions imposed notes that the attorney was required on admission to enter a four-year theraputic contract with a condition "to completely abstain from using alcohol, other drugs, or any other mood-altering chemicals, for four years." The attorney later failed a biological fluid test. In the bar proceedings, he "admitted that he drank a shot of tequila given to him by a partner in the law firm where he worked during a Christmas party, and the next day drank 2 or 3 beers at a football game." The Disciplinary Commission has recommended that the conditional admission be converted into disciplinary probation on conditions that include sobriety. (Mike Frisch)

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