HOW CAN I HELP?
If you are not an attorney, stop here. I cannot help you. I do NOT sue attorneys.
RESPONDING TO A BAR COMPLAINT
You just found out that someone thinks you're unethical. Maybe it was a former client, opposing counsel, the judge you challenged, or your ex-spouse. Whoever it was, they've questioned either your competence or your integrity and it could impact your ability to make a living. So far, the Utah State Bar's Office of Professional Conduct only has the complainant's side of the story. How you tell your side of the story could be the difference in whether a simple bar complaint turns into a full-blown investigation and prosecution.
REPRESENTATION AT THE SCREENING PANEL
If the Office of Professional Conduct believes you've violated an ethical rule, they will refer your case to a Screening Panel of the Utah Supreme Court's Ethics and Discipline Committee. This is perhaps the most critical phase of the process. The panel's determination of whether you've violated the rules and deserve some form of discipline sets the foundation for the entire disciplinary process. The Screening Panel sets aside sixty minutes to ask both sides questions in order to decide what happened. They must also form an opinion about your mental state and whether you might have harmed your client, the system or the profession. How you present your defense is as important as the defense itself when you only have an hour to protect your career and reputation
REPRESENTATION IN DISTRICT COURT
You represented yourself in your uncontested divorce and got everything you wanted. You defended yourself against that reckless driving charge and got it reduced to an infraction. How hard could it be to defend yourself at trial in an attorney discipline case? Your career is on the line, is now really the best time to find out? The attorney who is going to be prosecuting you spends their entire day dealing with this area of law. You need someone who knows it as well as they do.
Because the Utah Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to regulate the practice of law in Utah, appeals of attorney discipline cases are unlike any other type of appeal. Essentially, the Supreme Court's job is to get it right, regardless of how a trial judge may have interpreted a rule. An appeal that is focused on the wrong issue could result in more than just 20 minutes of humiliation during oral argument, it could be the final act of your career.
If you're the chair of a Utah State Bar section, on a conference committee, or in charge of your firm's CLE, you've probably pulled a few hairs out trying to fill that hour of ethics credit you promised your attendees. The measure of a successful presentation should not be the number of people that managed to stay awake. My pre-law background is in film and television. I believe in entertaining the audience as much as educating them. Whether you need a presentation on ethics or professionalism and civility, I can tailor a CLE that meets the needs and interests of your group.
If you think you may have engaged in serious misconduct, one of the most important decisions you can make is whether to self-report your actions to the Utah State Bar's Office of Professional Conduct. How and when you disclose the past could be the key to protecting your future.
REINSTATEMENTS AND READMISSIONS
If you have been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law in Utah there are very specific processes for being reinstated or readmitted. Many lawyers think all they have to do is sit in the time out chair for as long as the judge said, then they can just start up their practice again. There are rules and procedures that must be followed. It is not something you want to get wrong, because if you do, you have to wait another year before you can try again. If you're getting ready come off a suspension, or think you're ready to be readmitted from your disbarment, give me a call and let's make sure you do it right.
INFORMAL ETHICS ADVICE
Maybe you're trying to find a creative solution to a client's problem, but you're worried your creativity might be crossing an ethical line. Or perhaps the entrepreneur side of your brain has devised a new way of attracting clients but the rules on advertising and conflicts of interest are a little murky. Whatever the situation, the best time to get advise is before you find yourself in a tight spot. Whether you just want to sit and talk, or you want a written opinion, give me a call and let's make sure you stay out of trouble.
Regardless of whether you're on offense or defense, I am available to consult and/or testify on ethical issues in legal malpractice cases or any matter where an expert opinion on the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct may be needed.