Tuesday, January 31, 2023
The New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a reprimand as reciprocal discipline for an attorney's six-month suspension in Pennsylvania.
The Disciplinary Review Board described the violation
Respondent earned admission to the New Jersey bar in 1993 and to the Pennsylvania bar in 1994. She has no prior discipline in New Jersey. Court records reflect that she is currently employed as in-house counsel for Integra LifeSciences, in Princeton, New Jersey. During the time relevant to this matter, she was employed as in-house counsel for Ricoh USA, Inc. (Ricoh), in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Respondent worked as in-house counsel for Ricoh from September 2013 through January 2020. She initially served as assistant general counsel, handling employment law matters, until her August 2014 promotion to vice-president and assistant general counsel. In September 2017, she was promoted to senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for Ricoh, a position she occupied until January 2020. As general counsel, respondent oversaw Ricoh’s “overall legal issues, ethics, compliance, corporate and information security, and regulatory affairs in the United States, Canada and Latin America.”
Beginning on July 1, 2008 and continuing during her employment with Ricoh, respondent maintained her license status in Pennsylvania as “inactive.” According to the definition provided on the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board’s website, inactive status is defined as “an attorney who is a member of the Pennsylvania bar and who has elected to transfer to this status while not engaged in the practice of law.” To maintain inactive status, the attorney must register
annually and is prohibited from practicing law in Pennsylvania.
On September 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania administratively suspended respondent, effective October 26, 2017, for failure to pay her annual registration fee, in violation of Rule 219 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement.
She was restored to inactive status in January 2020.
The OAE correctly asserted, in its brief to us and during oral argument, that, based upon New Jersey disciplinary precedent, respondent’s unethical conduct warrants lesser discipline than the six-month term of suspension imposed in Pennsylvania. The OAE relied on New Jersey disciplinary precedent, discussed below, to conclude that respondent’s misconduct warranted a reprimand.
The OAE emphasized, in mitigation, that respondent has no prior discipline in New Jersey in her twenty-seven years at the bar; she accepted responsibility and cooperated with the Pennsylvania disciplinary authorities; and she expressed remorse for her misconduct.
In aggravation, the OAE noted that respondent failed to notify the OAE of her Pennsylvania discipline, as R. 1:20-14(a)(1) requires.