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Attorney’s suspension/probation spotlights reciprocal discipline

Minnesota is a “sister state,” notes a recent written decision of the California State Bar Court. What that means is that California legal authorities will pay close attention to select attorney discipline proceedings there, as well as in all other states, which are similarly characterized.

What potentially triggers California bar officials’ interest in an attorney-linked matter from another state is whether it has some reasonable nexus to California. Bar authorities found that to be decidedly the case in the above-cited matter.

The case pertained to an attorney licensed in both California and Minnesota. That lawyer ran afoul of Minnesota legal officials in late 2015 for what a recent legal article terms “multiple allegations of professional misconduct.” Those included disobeying a court order, acting unprofessionally and impermissible client billing. A key factor influencing bar involvement in that state was that the attorney’s unprofessional conduct spanned five different client matters.

The lawyer was temporarily suspended from practice in Minnesota. She completed all required probationary conditions and has since been reinstated to practice there.

California bar officials took due notice of the matter, given the attorney’s dual licensure. The state bar commenced a reciprocal discipline action against the attorney following her Minnesota suspension.

The result: a bar recommendation that the lawyer receive a one-year stayed license suspension linked with a two-year probationary term and 30-day actual suspension.

The bar’s decision is not final. It could still be affected by a definitive California Supreme Court ruling, an appeal or time bar precluding further review.