The State Bar of California takes seriously any accusations of professional misconduct. Recently, a number of lawyers have made the news for their roles in questionable activities. If the bar has notified you that a committee is investigating you for such accusations, you can be assured that the investigation will be thorough with the intention of finding the truth and preserving the integrity of the law profession.
Depending on the severity of the complaints against you, you may be facing the possibility of having your license suspended. A license suspension can have a serious impact on your life and your immediate future as well as long-term ramifications.
Do this, not that
If the bar rules to suspend your license to practice law, whatever legal work you are doing must stop. Even if your suspension is for a short time and your current client wants you to continue working on the case, you must do the following as soon as your suspension takes effect:
- Notifying your client
- Notifying the opposing counsel
- Returning all of your client's paperwork and property
- Withdrawing from representation of any clients who have retained you
Every state's bar association has different rules regarding the capacity at which you may continue to work within the legal field. For example, some states will allow you almost no connection to legal, paralegal or even clerking duties while on suspension. In California, however, other members of the bar may hire you to the following:
- Performing legal research
- Drafting legal documents
- Assisting with clerical duties
However, you may not offer legal advice or handle client funds while your license is under suspension. Of course, you certainly will not be representing clients until your suspension ends.
Defending your reputation and your future
Losing your license to practice law, even temporarily, can create a long-lasting hardship. Not only will you lose the income of your chosen career, but your professional reputation will likely suffer. Your clients may lose their confidence in you, and your colleagues may distance themselves to protect their own practices.
No matter the circumstances surrounding the accusations against you, a disciplinary hearing is a daunting and worrisome event. However, there may be steps you can take to remedy the situation and avoid losing your license. It may help you to seek advice from an advocate who has experience with disciplinary proceedings.