In another post, we shared information with you on ethical relocation as a lawyer. Even with the best intentions, mistakes are sometimes made. If you neglect something that the is required by the state bar in your new jurisdiction (here we focus on California), you could receive an inquiry during your admissions process which makes it sound like you will be denied for the unauthorized practice of law. Getting that inquiry can be a shocking experience. If you receive a letter of this nature from the state bar, consider these suggestions.
Understand the Parameters of the Inquiry
The inquiry from the State Bar will typically set out the issues they are inquiring about, and in our panic when we first get it, we can sometimes think the inquiry is broader than it really is. So read the inquiry carefully and determine the parameters of what they are asking.
Review the Rules
The letter you received might reference specific rules or statutes that the Bar thinks you may have violated. If it does, make sure you pull those up and read them carefully. If the letter makes only factual inquiries without reference to any rules or statutes, pull up the Rules of Professional Conduct and State Bar Act and review them. You will likely find them relatively easy to navigate and can identify the sections that pertain to the factual inquiries made by the Bar.
Above All, Don’t Panic
The most important suggestion from Zavieh Law is don’t panic if you receive an inquiry on your moral character application related to your activities as a lawyer since relocating to California. It is certainly an emotionally draining situation, but to successfully resolve it, you must stay objective and calm.
Consider Talking with a Lawyer
After you’ve taken the time to review the inquiry and read the rules, it’s time to find the proper resources. You may decide that you don’t believe that you need to hire a lawyer to help you defend your moral character application (and actually your fitness to practice law). It is still a good idea to consult with a bar admissions attorney to find out what they think of your situation and help formulate a plan of attack. Bar admissions lawyers understand the best phrases to use, issues to raise, evidence to present, and what you should do to resolve the situation. While this is your first time dealing with a bar inquiry, admissions lawyers see them every day.