Monday, March 2, 2009

Professor Pitfalls

One of the perils of moving from practice to academia led to the following sanction reported in this month's California Bar Journal:

[An attorney] was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with a 30-day actual suspension, and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 26, 2008.

  [He] left his law firm in 2004 to become a professor at Whittier Law School. However, he did not notify the State Bar of a change of address. He later was suspended for failing to complete MCLE requirements or pay bar dues.  

While suspended, he handled a case and conducted a deposition. He paid his bar fees and complied with the MCLE requirement the day after the deposition and was reinstated.

  [He] admitted he did not change his address and he practiced while suspended. However, the bar court declined to find his actions entailed moral turpitude, as charged by the bar. [He]argued that he was unaware of his suspension through negligence.  

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, immediately paid his dues when he became aware of the suspension, presented favorable reference letters and has done extensive pro bono work.

Charges of moral turpitude? Base, vile and depraved? I think this falls short of conduct that offends the moral code of mankind. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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There's got to be more to this opinion than we know. The Respondent seems to have been simply negligent with regard to his bar dues and his duty to notify the bar of his change of address. At most, he should have received an informal admonition.

If the described conduct is all there is to this case, the only explanation for this one-year suspension is politics. Respondent must have irritated someone at his former law firm who had pull in the California disciplinary system.

Posted by: Joe Bowman | Mar 5, 2009 4:20:06 AM

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