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Disbarred: multiple acts of misconduct catch up with CA attorney

It’s not like the California State Bar is routinely quick to act upon complaints by taking drastic action against attorneys with problematic professional histories.

Any individual seeking information on state lawyers with troublesome advocacy-related profiles can easily find it in public records, which will also show that California bar officials seldom pull the disbarment trigger on any lawyer practicing in the state.

Disbarment is a truly heavy weapon wielded by the bar, and authorities are loath to use it often.

When they do, of course, it clearly enough spotlights one or more alleged counts of wrongdoing that the State Bar Court finds to be especially egregious and clearly detrimental to a client’s best interests.

One recent disbarment proceeding and outcome chronicled in a California legal publication illustrates the type of attorney misconduct that the bar believes warrants the state’s most serious disciplinary response against a lawyer. The involved attorney was charged with a number of counts alleging misconduct and ultimately disbarred after being found culpable on five of them. They included these allegations:

  • Failure to inform client of a material court development
  • Inaction in response to authorities’ request for information relating to professional misconduct
  • Failure to timely provide required bar information concerning updated membership data

And then there was this: The attorney received a sizable advance fee from the client and failed to account for it thereafter.

Prior disciplinary actions might also have influenced the court’s disbarment ruling. The attorney had received so-called “reprovals” regarding ethics violations and uncooperative conduct with bar officials, respectively, on two prior occasions.