January 14, 2009
Return To Practice
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement of an attorney admitted in 1987 who had resigned from the bar in 2006 after a lenghty period of non-legal employment:
1. Petitioner is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She was admitted to OBA membership and licensed to practice law in Oklahoma in October, 1987.
2. She resided and practiced law in Oklahoma from her admission date until April 1, 1999. In 1999 she obtained a Master's Degree in Health Policy and Management from the University of Oklahoma, joined the Peace Corps and left Oklahoma. Later in 1999 she relocated to New Mexico where she worked for the New Mexico Primary Care Association as a health policy analyst and then as assistant director, leaving that position about September 2003. She then relocated to Kansas, where in October 2003, she became Executive Director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, a position she held until the middle of August 2007. She returned to Oklahoma in 2007 for personal family reasons, decided to again make her home here, and since her return has worked in the area of providing consulting services for community healthcare programs and has also done paralegal work for an Oklahoma City lawyer.
3. Petitioner maintained her license to practice law in Oklahoma until late March 2006, when she voluntarily resigned her OBA membership. At the time of her resignation, she was not the subject of any disciplinary investigation or proceeding.
Apparently an Oklahoma attorney who resigns under non-disciplinary circumstances (as here) must petition for reinstatement and prove present fitness at a hearing. That strikes me as a rather cumbersome process where, as here, the bar's general counsel supports the reinstatement petition. (Mike Frisch)
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Perhaps it has something to do with her delinquency in paying her dues for the year of resignation:
>>> The OBA has incurred $488.41 in reimbursable costs in this matter and the record shows Petitioner has previously reimbursed the OBA for said costs, as well as paying to the OBA $375.00, which are her OBA dues for 2006 (the year she resigned her OBA membership), plus a $100.00 penalty for late payment. Petitioner is also responsible for paying membership dues to the OBA for the current year. <<<
But I do agree, the Oklahoma process is cumbersome.
In general, it does not seem that most jurisdictions publish rules for readmission after resignation while not subject to disciplinary action. This leaves the situation unclear. Perhaps that is the intent? Many lawyers remain members of bars that they do not need to be members of simply because they want to preserve the possibility of practice in that jurisdiction in the future. If it was apparent that they could easily seek readmission should that become necessary, then many more might resign.
Given the current situation with reciprocal discipline, my opinion is that a lawyer should only be a member of those bars which the lawyer needs to be a member of. Otherwise, he will find himself unnecessarily fighting discipline on multiple fronts. I learned this lesson the hard way.
Posted by: FixedWing | Jan 14, 2009 9:11:00 AM