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Lawyers Helping Lawyers Avoid the Perils of Professional Discipline

Frivolous Ethics Charges

Q. If I bring an action without legal or factual justification, I may get sanctioned. Does the same thing apply to Bar Counsel?

A. Yes and no.

This issue arose recently in a case before the Supreme Court of Maryland. Suspended for two months on a prior infraction, it took Raj Singh more than two years to reinstate his law license as Bar Counsel threatened his lawyer with disciplinary action if he sought a return.

After he filed a reinstatement petition which correctly affirmed that there were no disciplinary actions pending against him, Bar Counsel filed a new set of charges 30 days later and blithely accused him of lying about it. Finding no factual basis for this and many other sinister allegations, the trial judge was "concerned by Petitioner's repeated claims where there [was] no evidence in support of the same, nor any citation to controlling legal authority.  ... Petitioner's duty is to protect clients and not to lightly make unproven bald allegations."

After Ms. Lawless resigned as Bar Counsel, her deputy refused to challenge the findings below and cited "significant mitigation" to request that the Supreme Court "exercise its discretion and dismiss this matter." Since these charges "not only rested upon 'unproven bald allegations,' but upon outright lies," Respondent's counsel asked the Court to sanction her by forcing Petitioner to pay his costs and attorney's fees.

"As the prevailing party in this disciplinary proceeding," the Court believed that "Respondent is entitled to reasonable and necessary costs." But it stopped short of awarding him the attorney's fees incurred in the course of what Respondent regarded as a "bad faith prosecution." Observing that "there is no Maryland Rule authorizing payment of attorney's fees from the Disciplinary Fund to a respondent as the prevailing party in a disciplinary proceeding," the Court emphasized its need to "act as responsible stewards of the Disciplinary Fund" and declined to award them.

Read the Supreme Court's Opinion

Purging Perjury
Ethics Questions for Ethics Official

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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.


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.