DISCIPLINE, ETHICS, CHARACTER AND FITNESS
Ethics Lawyer & Failed Character and Fitness Defense in Pennsylvania
Applying for Reinstatement to the Pennsylvania Bar after Receiving Discipline
If you have received discipline that resulted in either a suspension of your license, disbarment or you were declared disabled under Pa. RDE 301, then you may be able to return to the practice of law in Pennsylvania.
One of the most important parts of requesting reinstatement after disciplinary action is showing that you have complied with the Order of Suspension and that you have paid any and all outstanding costs and fees. If you have failed to abide by the Order of Suspension, then this will be extremely detrimental to your request for reinstatement.
If you have been suspended for less than one year and if you were not subject to Pa. RDE 301, then you may file an Active Status Request with the Board along with a verified statement that you complied with the Order of Suspension and paid the required costs and fees. The Board Prothonotary will then certify that the formerly admitted attorney was in compliance with the Order of Suspension to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will make the decision to reinstate or not reinstate the attorney.
If you have been suspended for more than one year, were disbarred or were placed on inactive status under Pa. R.D.E. 301, then you will have to file a Petition for Reinstatement, a Reinstatement Questionnaire and original notarized Authorization and Release forms. You will also have to pay a filing fee with the Board Prothonotary. Prior to filing this Petition for Reinstatement, you have to complete 36 hours of Pennsylvania CLE courses, with 12 credit hours in ethics. These credits must be completed within the 12 months prior to filing the Petition.
The Petition and accompanying paperwork will be sent to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for their review and investigation. Within 60 days of filing the Petition for Reinstatement, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel files their response.
The Board will then refer the matter to the Hearing Committee and a hearing will be scheduled. At this hearing, it is the applicant’s burden to demonstrate that: (1) they have competent knowledge of the law,(2) that they possess the required character and fitness, and (3) that if the applicant resumes the practice of law that it will not be detrimental the bar, the administration of justice or a subversion of the public interest. It will be necessary to show that the prior conduct that resulted in the suspension or disbarment will not be repeated. If an attorney was transferred to inactive status under Pa. RDE 301, it is the applicant’s burden to show that the disability the attorney suffered has been removed and that they are fit to practice law.
Following the hearing, both the applicant and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel may file a brief with the Hearing Committee regarding the facts, conclusions of law and the suggested disposition of the case.
The Hearing Committee will issue a Report and Recommendation in favor of reinstatement or against reinstatement. The Petitioner and Office of Disciplinary Counsel may file Exceptions to the Hearing Committee’s Report and Recommendation. If either party files Exceptions, then the opposing party may file a Brief Opposing Exceptions. Either party may also request oral argument before a panel of Board Members.
The Disciplinary Board will then adjudicate the matter and file a Report and Recommendation with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. This Report will also recommend if they believe the reinstatement should be granted to denied. The matter will be referred to the Supreme Court for final adjudication to either grant or deny reinstatement.
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