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Sanctions for Non-Practicing Licensed Attorneys

Friday, September 10th, 2010

(From the DRI Today blog, originally posted on September 2, 2010 03:03 by Bruce A. Campbell)


Attorneys searching for a silver lining could find a dark cloud of sanctions.

There are many career options for non-practicing licensed attorneys. (See for example, 300+ Things You Can Do With A Law Degree.)

Although non-lawyers working in these careers are not obligated to adhere to lawyer disciplinary rules, licensed attorneys are. To their great surprise, the non-practicing lawyers might find themselves subject to disciplinary action for conduct in careers outside of the practice of law.

An Example From The Federal Government

Politics is a popular career for non-practicing licensed attorneys. Often times it is a natural step to move from practicing law to making law.

At the Federal level, all Representatives must abide by the House Ethics Rules. Those who are lawyers must also, answer to their licensing State Bar. Bar Associations have sanctioned lawyer-politicians for actions committed while serving in government offices. Most notable:

Former President Richard Nixon was disbarred from New York in 1976 for obstruction of justice related to the Watergate scandal.

Former Vice President Spiro Agnew, having pleaded no contest to charges of bribery and tax evasion, was disbarred in 1974 from Maryland, the state he had previously served as governor.

Former President Clinton received a 5-year suspension from the Arkansas State Bar for false statements he made in the matter with Ms. Lewinsky.

What Is The Basis For Sanctions?

We can consider the current situation of Congressman Charles Rangel

Read the rest of the article on the DRI Today blog.