You've got mail ... from Disciplinary Counsel for the D.C. Bar.
What should you say in response to a grievance filed against you?
How should you say it?
And, perhaps even more important, who should write it?
In D.C. Bar grievance cases, lawyers who represent themselves jeopardize their careers. Without the benefit of objective counsel, otherwise outstanding lawyers may drop subtle hints of evasion or righteous indignation that raise more questions than they resolve—unwittingly prompting further proceedings and, in some instances, harsher sanctions.
With the benefit of experienced counsel, an attorney may provide a prompt, concise and accurate response that addresses the complaint squarely and objectively. In the District of Columbia, wise counsel is particularly important at the initial stage of investigation, where an attorney's response to client complaints and other grievances may prompt Disciplinary Counsel to close the file, or trigger more protracted and painful proceedings which may force a lawyer to close his practice.
Rather than place their law licenses at greater risk, my colleagues have retained me to compose responses which satisfy their duty to cooperate with disciplinary investigations—without inviting greater scrutiny. By ghost-writing these letters for their signatures, I am able to counter contentions of professional misconduct with articulate responses that exemplify the professionalism of my clients.
If successful in addressing Bar Counsel's concerns, my clients are able to avoid protracted investigations, more formal proceedings and sanctions. But even if the matter goes beyond an initial inquiry, my involvement at the earliest stage of an investigation lays a positive foundation for responding to more formal charges before the Board on Professional Responsibility and the Court of Appeals.
In this way, I strive to minimize the disruption of the attorney grievance process so that my colleagues may do what they do best—represent their clients rather than respond to their grievances.
|Irwin R. Kramer
Attorney At Law
KRAMER & CONNOLLY