CALIFORNIA STATE BAR DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
You have worked incredibly hard to earn your license to practice law, and we will devote the same commitment to representing you before the California State Bar with the goal that you will be able to keep your license. If you are an attorney who is facing criminal prosecution and/or suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction that has interfered with your practice, we have experience representing attorneys facing potential discipline before the California State Bar.
In dealing with the California State Bar it is imperative that you are proactive. We take an aggressive approach to help mitigate and address the issues directly. There are various procedures within the State Bar proceedings to resolve cases early; it is not in your best interest to just wait.
It is important that an attorney facing criminal charges understands the consequences that a plea and conviction will have on his/her license. Do not wait until the conviction is final; seek representation pertaining to your license as soon as possible. We will work with your criminal defense attorney to ensure that the prosecutor and judge are both aware of the possible consequences any plea may have on your license and work to minimize those consequences through agressive and targeted negotiations.
The State Bar is notified of matters regarding attorneys by complaints from members of the public, courts, prosecutors, insurance companies, banks and other sources. Banks are required to report to the State Bar whenever a check is presented upon a trust account for which there are insufficient funds, even where the item is honored by the bank. There were 2,418 such reports according to the State Bar during 2012.
Attorneys are required to self-report certain matters, including the bringing of an indictment or information charging a felony, any felony conviction, and many misdemeanor convictions. Deferred adjudication resolutions may constitute a "conviction" within the meaning of the State Bar Act even where the attorney is permitted to withdraw a no contest plea and the matter is dismissed without the entry of judgment. (See, e.g., Bus & Prof. Code section 6101(c) ("acceptance" of no contest plea to criminal offense constitutes a conviction). Any felony conviction, and any misdemeanor conviction where there is probable cause to believe that the offense involved moral turpitude, results in immediate suspension. (Bus & Prof. Code section 6102(a).) Specified felony convictions, upon becoming final, result in summary disbarment.
Once an attorney has been charged with a felony by indictment or information, has entered a plea of guilty or no contest, or has been found guilty by a jury of a felony or certain misdemeanors, we work with the attorney to timely and properly report the matter to the California State Bar pursuant to Business & Professions Code section 6068. During that time we also work with the client to mitigate and address any personal issues; rehabilitation is a critical aspect of any defense before the State Bar. We take a mulitple layer approach, which most often includes various components of rehabilitation. For example, if an attorney’s conviction is related to a mental illness or a drug addiction, it is crucial that the attorney seek the proper help for his/her problem. We have relationships with various professionals throughout the state of California who have successfully helped our clients, from making diagnoses, to providing continuous treatment. Rehabilitation can also be done through the State Bar Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP). LAP “aids attorneys struggling with substance abuse, mental health concerns, stress, burnout and other issues impacting their productivity.” We encourage clients to participate in the program and can help facilitate his/her enrollment. Through our involvement in the client’s rehabilitative process, we are able to ensure that it is completed in a fashion that can be effectively presented to the State Bar. In appropriate cases, we can advocate to the State Bar that a client should be afforded an opportunity to participate in the Bar's Alternative Discipline Program.
Of course, many complaints against attorneys are without merit. Fee disuputes often result in reports to the State Bar. Where a complaint against an attorney is without merit, we can undertake investigation and early contact with the State Bar may avoid the filing of a public notice of disciplinary charges.
Once formal proceedings are initiated we diligently defend the client seeking the most advantageous settlement, and where appropriate, we will try the case. We are meticulous in our representation raising and preserving all relevant issues. Our extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system is beneficial to clients in State Bar proceedings based upon a criminal conviction.
You have worked hard to earn your license and build your professional reputation. Do not allow the stress of the situation deter you from confronting the allegations head on. For Attorneys facing allegations of professional misconduct before the California State Bar, contact Rothschild Wishek & Sands LLP for knowledgeable and effective representation.