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How Does a Lawyer Become Disbarred?

Sizzling LEO | 3:49 AM | 0 comments

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Disbarment is the temporary or permanent loss of a license to practice law, and removal of an attorney from the bar association in the state which he or she was licensed. An attorney disciplinary hearing takes place to determine whether the behavior exhibited by an attorney justifies disbarment.

The American Bar Association’s Rule of Professional Conduct 8.5 states that a lawyer is subject to disbarment, or any disciplinary action, under the rules of the jurisdiction where the lawyer is admitted to practice, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs. The conduct of an attorney which willfully disregards the interests of a client may result in disbarment. Such behavior can be exhibited in a number of different ways.

In most states, perjury and financial fraud are serious crimes that would qualify an attorney for disbarment. Attorneys who knowingly mismanage clients’ accounts, shuffle paperwork for financial gain, or engage in misappropriation of funds face severe penalties and the possibility of disbarment.

Gross personal misconduct that breaches the state’s rules of legal ethics can also justify an attorney’s disbarment. Each state has rules which govern attorney behavior and require that they avoid conflicts of interest and any number of other unethical practices. Some states will look into the social media accounts of attorneys who are under investigation in order to search for serious substance abuse and other personal misconduct. Non-financial moral misconduct does not often lead to disbarment because there are lesser punishments that are typically imposed instead. Such consequences are fines, censure and license suspension.

Finally, failure to comply with a state’s licensing requirements can disbar an attorney. The bar association will look at technicalities like payments and dues, as well as more serious requirements like the completion of continuing legal education.

Attorney disbarment is quire rare, but is encouraged in qualifying cases to promote lawyer-client transparency, and to ensure that clients receive the fairest of treatment.

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