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When can a lawyer lose their license?

Like any profession, there are those who serve as attorneys that may not be the best of people. In a recent example, a disciplinary group met a high-profile attorney out of Northern Kentucky who hoped to practice in Ohio with a motion to keep him from practicing law. The Ohio Disciplinary Council argued for the suspension of Benjamin Dusing’s law license, pointing to evidence of domestic violence, bribery, and false allegations to the court as evidence to support the request for “immediate interim remedial suspension.”

This was not the attorney’s first experience with such matters. Just a few months ago he was also the subject of a temporary suspension in Kentucky.

What leads to a suspension?

The exact factors depend on the state, but some common factors that generally apply in every state can include:

  • Addiction. A struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol can trigger an investigation by state’s licensing board. Depending on the results of the investigation, the licensing board could choose to suspend or even revoke the attorney’s law license.
  • Criminal activity. Allegations of criminal activity or the presence of criminal charges are also likely to result in an investigation.
  • Mortal turpitude. The licensing body also expects those who serve as legal counsel to meet certain moral standards. In California, attorneys who are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

Moral turpitude is an act that is so vile it is contrary to the “customary rule of right and duty between man and man.” Extreme examples include murder, but felony hit and run, kidnapping and cruelty to animals can also qualify.