Wednesday, December 19, 2012

9,450 Clients To Notify

The North Dakota Supreme Court imposed the stipulated discipline of a six-month suspension for an attorney's conduct in failing to comply with the notification obligations of an earlier suspension:

After his October 1, 2008, suspension, he filed an affidavit with this Court attesting that he had served 106 notices to clients, as required by N.D.R. Lawyer Discipl. 6.3. However, he testified at the hearing resulting in the 2008 suspension, that as of the day before the hearing, his law firm "had like 9,450 [clients] or something along those lines." By letter dated April 30, 2009, Disciplinary Counsel asked [him] to explain the apparent discrepancy in the number of clients. In a response dated May 20, 2009, [he] revealed that on May 15, 2008, he "sold Bradley Ross Law and its clients to Facemyer and Associates in Utah." He also revealed that "on or before September 17, 2008, all remaining Bradley Ross Law clients and there [sic] files had been transferred to Facemyer and Associates."

This information led to a request for information demonstrating compliance with the suspension order, and

[The attorney]admitted that his failure to provide the requested information until September 10, 2012, violated N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 8.1(b), which provides that a lawyer shall not knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority. He also admitted that his failure to provide clients with notice, by certified mail, of the sale of his law firm violated the notice provisions of N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.17(c), but that the actual or potential injury resulting from the violation was substantially alleviated by [his]efforts to provide notice by other means.

To attorneys that prosecute and defend bar discipline cases, this opinion deals with a recurring issue. Often, a suspended attporney's failure to substantially comply with notice obligations turn a short suspension into a lengthy one.

In D.C., many suspensions/disbarment never start to run for reinstatement purposes because of the attorney's failure to certify compliance with such onligations. (Mike Frisch)

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