Monday, August 25, 2008
A Pennsylvania lawyer was transferred to inactive status during a period of time in which he was not practicing law. He also was admitted in New Jersey and was on retired status there. Notwithstanding these impediments, he began practicing corporate law with a firm located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. After he became aware of inquiries from the Pennsylvania Bar, he continued to practice at the firm and contended that he did so under a lawyer's supervision. He relied upon his belief that he had an active New Jersey license. He now has regained his active status in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a consent disposition of a six-month suspension, retroactive to the date that the court had entered an order of temporary suspension. In effect, the court's order reinstates the lawyer. There is no per se discipline for the misconduct at issue, the attorney was remorseful and had no prior discipline and the suspension was within the range of sanctions for unauthorized practice.
Practice note: proper attention to licensing issues is obligatory and taken seriously by the state bars. Here, the attorney "allege[d] that he had been told by the New Jersey Bar of Law Examiners that his status was active and in good standing but conceded that he failed to verify his status with the [Client Protection] Fund." (Mike Frisch)