Attorneys have a great deal of power in American society. Their access to the legal system and the ability to use it is something that puts them at a distinct advantage over most nonattorneys.

That’s why it’s important never to abuse that power — and why an attorney in Sacramento may now lose his license to practice. The attorney has engaged in a pattern of what the Bar has referred to as “litigious warfare” against his ex-wife and others.

Twice in the past decade, the attorney was labeled a “vexatious litigant” by the court, due to motions, pleadings, discovery actions and other legal proceedings. The court uses that term to describe someone whose legal filings are designed merely to harass, intimidate, frustrate or create a burden on another person. They’re generally arguments without any legal merit — but they can force a defendant to go through an expensive and time-consuming process in response to each filing. The attorney who files such actions, naturally, tends not to have the same expenses since he or she can navigate the legal waters without assistance.

The legal system is designed to be a tool to resolve disputes and move situations forward — not keep people mired in the same struggle over and over again. There are times when a legal situation may drag on for a while due to complex issues and appeals — but it should always be something that happens out of necessity. When someone uses the law capriciously, as a weapon, it undermines the public’s faith in the entire legal system.

The responsible use of power is also considered a moral issue. Attorneys are held to the absolute highest standards — in both their personal and professional lives. It isn’t any different when those two areas overlap. Cases like this are an important reminder that the Bar is always very conscious of the need to maintain the public’s confidence in the profession.

It’s essential never to let personal vendettas overpower good sense when you act on your own behalf. If you have any doubt about how a legal action might affect your ability to maintain your license to practice law, it’s wisest to seek the advice of another attorney.