Administrative and Interim Suspensions in the Lawyer Regulatory Process - A Preliminary Inquiry
56 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 25, 2014
While the use of suspensions as a sanction for violation of a rule of professional conduct is commonplace and well understood, suspensions are used far more extensively in the lawyer regulatory process. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are imposed to:
• Secure adherence to law-licensing requirements;
• Induce compliance with societal obligations imposed outside the disciplinary process;
• Shelter the public from lawyers who have been found by others to have engaged in professional misconduct or serious criminal activity;
• Compel cooperation in the disciplinary process; and
• Protect the public when continued practice by a lawyer poses a substantial threat of serious harm.
Suspending a lawyer from practice, even for a limited period of time, however, can have substantial negative consequences for the lawyer, the lawyer’s clients, third-parties, and the legal system. In this article, I explore the differing rationales underlying each of these types of suspension and whether, in each instance, suspension is the appropriate tool to protect those interests, or whether less drastic remedies would suffice. Upon balancing the legitimate interests furthered by such suspensions against the substantial costs they impose, I argue for tempering those consequences in certain settings, such as pure administrative suspensions, and for employing less disruptive sanctions wherever possible.
Keywords: administrative suspension, interim suspension, temporary suspension, emergency suspension, public harm suspension
JEL Classification: K29, K39, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation