One aspect of solo practice that’s commonly overlooked is the impact that a suspension can have on a solo’s career. Over at Legal Profession Blog, Mike Frisch notes that even a bar suspension of a short duration can kill a solo’s practice because he or she may not have colleagues who can assume control of the case. By contrast, lawyers employed at a firm can turn matters over to their partners while they serve their time.
Many probably assume that a lawyer who’s done something bad enough to get suspended doesn’t deserve a second chance to practice anyway. I disagree. In fact, the suspensions that are actually harshest are those of short duration, where the conduct was not terribly bad, but the lawyer must shutter his practice during the suspension, and then try to ramp it up again. And, sometimes bars suspend lawyers where they may have made a simple mistake.
UPDATE A reader sends this link to the sad story of Ed Slavitt who received a 6 month suspension for writing a bar reference that didn’t tell all about the applicant. Is that worth losing your legal career? You tell me….