One of the most severe punishments that can be imposed on an attorney is license suspension. Attorneys can be suspended for any number of reasons. We covered continuing legal education (CLE) noncompliance in a previous article
, but suspensions can also be handed down for any number of professional rules violations. ABA Model Rule 27
lays out the obligations of suspended attorneys, including the requirement to notify all clients, co-counsel, and opposing counsel within ten days of suspension. However, as we’ll explain, the steps to be reinstated are much less straightforward.
How can a suspended attorney be reinstated?
Suspended attorneys must be reinstated in order to practice law again. Suspended attorneys seeking reinstatement often must follow a number of steps prescribed by their jurisdiction’s disciplinary body. Each jurisdiction varies in the requirements for reinstatement. In fact, many states’ disciplinary rules grant the state’s supreme court (or other disciplinary authority) wide latitude in deciding what penalty to impose on each individual attorney.
Often, for suspended attorneys to be reinstated, they must fulfill some form of CLE. ABA Model Rule 25
explicitly grants courts permission to impose CLE course completion as a requirement for reinstatement. Here, we’ll lay out some of the approaches that jurisdictions take in regards to CLE requirements for suspended attorneys. As always, it’s vital that you check with your jurisdiction on the latest rules and regulations regarding CLE and suspension.
Correcting a CLE Deficiency
If an attorney is suspended for failing to meet CLE requirements, the road to reinstatement is relatively straightforward in most jurisdictions. As we wrote in our article on CLE noncompliance
, most jurisdictions simply require that suspended attorneys complete their outstanding CLE requirements, and possibly file an affidavit for reinstatement. The requirements for reinstatement in these cases often become more stringent as the duration of noncompliance gets longer. Some states, such as Indiana
, require certain CLE-noncompliant attorneys to also complete penalty CLE hours. In most jurisdictions, attorneys do accrue additional CLE credit requirements during the period in which they are suspended.
CLE Requirements for Other Suspended Attorneys
Attorneys suspended for non-CLE reasons may still be required to complete CLE credits
as a condition of their reinstatement. ABA Model Rule 25
states that a court “may impose any conditions that are reasonably related to the grounds for the lawyer's original suspension or disbarment, or to evidence presented at the hearing regarding the lawyer's failure to meet the criteria for reinstatement or readmission.” One of these conditions includes “participation in continuing legal education courses.”
Because most jurisdictions have adopted rules that mirror the ABA Model Rules, most suspended attorneys can be required to complete CLE courses
as a condition of reinstatement. Because the decision of whether to implement such a requirement is decided on a case-by-case basis, it’s difficult to analyze just how often this condition is imposed.
A suspended attorney seeking reinstatement needs to act quickly–in most jurisdictions, the longer an attorney is suspended, the more difficult it becomes to be reinstated. For suspended attorneys who need to fulfill CLE requirements in order to be reinstated, look no further than Quimbee CLE
. Once you finish a Quimbee CLE course, you can download your certificate of completion instantly, so you can send it to the right place as soon as possible. We’ll also save your CLE certificates in your account for easy access. Quimbee CLE offers courses approved in most jurisdictions, and we’re constantly adding more. Check out Quimbee CLE