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The Unbearable Weightiness of Bar Sanctions on Solos

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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….

  • Another example of the disproportionate burden being carried by sole practitioners is the current State Bar of California proposed rule re malpractice insurance disclosure. The rule, if (likely when this year) adopted by The State Bar of California, will require attorneys to provide notice and disclose to their clients that they do NOT have malpractice insurance. Their is no concomitant requirement that they disclose insurance coverage or the nature of the coverage or the amount of coverage. And their is NO effort on the part of The State Bar to provide affordable malpractice insurance premiums. The Bar will let the market place deal with this, but of course they are forcing customers into the market!

  • Steven M. Warshawsky

    Re Ed’s comment, it seems to me that practicing without malpractice insurance is a very risky move. But, in any event, it is hardly unreasonable to require that prospective clients be given notice of this highly relevant fact. How is this unfair? After all, the state could have mandated that all lawyers (like all drivers) be insured.

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