Disbarment: Not Necessarily Forever
Disbarment is not always a forever kind of thing where attorneys are concerned. In most states, lawyers are allowed to petition for reinstatement after a certain period of time. Some states like California are still struggling with the whole permanent disbarment issue. California has considered adding a permanent disbarment option for the past 12 years. However, the California Supreme Court remains reluctant to include such a category. It met with bar association members in November 2008 and suggested that permanent disbarment should be reserved only for the “worst of worst.”
Originally, the objective was to pass regulations that made stealing client’s funds and fraud grounds for an attorney to earn permanent disbarment. After meeting with the Supreme Court, the State Bar Board of Governors' Committee on Regulation, Admissions and Discipline Oversight has indicated it will scale that version back.
Another proposed change stipulates that an attorney would have to be disbarred at least two times before they are no longer able to apply for reinstatement.
Source: “Calif. State Bar to Review Permanent Disbarment Proposal”, Mike McKee, The Recorder, November 19, 2008, http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202426130622&rss=newswire