Lawyers – Take Note!

Two recent developments could have more lawyers in trouble with the State Bar of California, the regulatory agency that oversees the practice of law in this state.

First, the State Bar has instituted an online complaint procedure (in English and Spanish) for attorney misconduct and the unauthorized practice of law. While forms may be mailed to the State Bar, and are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian, the new online procedure allows consumers to file a complaint directly on the State Bar’s website by providing basic information about the attorney, a description of the complaint and/or the alleged misconduct, and the ability to include relevant attachments to support their complaint. The new forms are intended to streamline and simplify the complaint submission process by eliminating the need to print and mail the complaint forms and supporting documents – that could easily increase the number of complaints received the State Bar in this paperless-preferred age.

Second, attorneys are coming up on their April 30th deadline to submit new fingerprints to the State Bar (which was supposed to, but did not, keep prior submissions). Above the Law reports that over 6,000 criminal history reports have been submitted to the State Bar to review as a result of recent-years’ fingerprinting (representing about five per cent of California attorneys fingerprinted).

Meanwhile, the State Bar is proposing a licensing fee (dues) increase. Perhaps to display that they are hard at work with their current resources, they have begun posting disciplinary reports on their LinkedIn page – daily, attorneys reprimanded, suspended, or disbarred are showing up on peoples’ LinkedIn feeds.

Many, if not most, of the criminal records being sent to the bar regard old convictions:  half from prior to 2010, and a third prior to 2005. Some concern convictions before law school, and some are for attorneys who have already retired; the State Bar will of course triage their work, but they are making a strong showing….including hiring independent prosecutors.

If you have an old conviction hanging around, you might consider getting it expunged. While still reportable, it does show the State Bar that you have moved beyond that behavior. With so many cases to sift through, it could be the difference between a paper review and an investigation.

If you are interested in getting your criminal record expunged, call Simas & Associates.

If you get a call from the State Bar and need representation, call Simas & Associates.