The Lawyer's Lawyer

Lawyers Helping Lawyers Avoid the Perils of Professional Discipline

Caring for Our Colleagues

Q. In a profession with a higher incidence of mental illness and addiction than society at large, are we doing enough to care for our colleagues?

A. Like lawyers themselves, our profession places a low priority on wellness and mental health in general.

In a field where the "client comes first," many of us frown upon the concept of "work-life balance." Rewarded for the number of hours we spend at the office, attorneys often take professional pride in sacrificing their personal lives to champion the rights of others. Rather than concede "weakness" by asking for help, we project ourselves as pillars of strength, maintaining a professional façade even as life crumbles beneath us.

We may "love the law," but does the law love us back? Most states budget millions per year to prosecute lawyers, but little, if anything, on alternatives to discipline that may save lawyers in crisis. Rather than look out for one another, we are told to report on each other. While some offenses may require a report to "the appropriate professional authority," our Rules of Professional Conduct say nothing of our need to refer colleagues for appropriate professional help.

If we really care about our clients, we must take better care of the professionals sworn to serve them. In my own state, where their prosecutor has the sole power to approve ad hoc "diversion agreements," I have proposed a more structured program composed of:

Remedial Education – practical courses and hands-on instruction covering problems which may prompt discipline, and teaching lessons that reprimands and other sanctions cannot;

Addiction and Crisis Intervention – as part of a comprehensive diversion program, existing Lawyer Assistance Programs can reach more lawyers, save more lives and provide key strategies for coping with the pressures of a stressful occupation;

Mentorship – a volunteer network of attorneys and accountants to mentor and to monitor lawyers on practice management, retainers, billing, trust account management and other practical tasks; and

Community Service – a pro bono component letting lawyers "work off " potential sanctions and further enhance the public's access to justice.

As the article below indicates, I believe that a more organized approach to intervention can improve the quality of law practice by improving the quality of life for those who practice law:

Removing Retainers

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Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.

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By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.
 

NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
OR THE BOARD ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE D.C. BAR