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LegalSpeak: Forms of Discipline under the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Discipline

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Chapter Lawyers and Lawsuits

2.2 Disbarment

Disbarment terminates the individual’s status as a lawyer. Where disbarment is not permanent, procedures should be established for a lawyer who has been disbarred to apply for readmission, provided that:

  • (1) no application should be considered for five years from the effective date of disbarment; and

  • (2) the petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence:

    • (a) successful completion of the bar examination, and

    • (b) rehabilitation and fitness to practice law.

2.3 Suspension

Suspension is the removal of a lawyer from the practice of law for a specified minimum period of time. Generally, suspension should be for a period of time equal to or greater than six months, but in no event should the time period prior to application for reinstatement be more than three years. Procedures should be established to allow a suspended lawyer to apply for reinstatement, but a lawyer who has been suspended should not be permitted to return to practice until he has completed a reinstatement process demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness to practice law.

2.4 Interim Suspension

Interim suspension is the temporary suspension of a lawyer from the practice of law pending imposition of final discipline. Interim suspension includes:

  • (a) suspension upon conviction of a serious crime or,

  • (b) suspension when the lawyer’s continuing conduct is or is likely to cause immediate and serious injury to a client or the public.

2.5 Reprimand

Reprimand, also known as censure or public censure, is a form of public discipline which declares the conduct of the lawyer improper, but does not limit the lawyer’s right to practice.

2.6 Admonition

Admonition, also known as private reprimand, is a form of non-public discipline which declares the conduct of the lawyer improper, but does not limit the lawyer’s right to practice.

2.7 Probation

Probation is a sanction that allows a lawyer to practice law under specified conditions.

Probation can be imposed alone or in conjunction with a reprimand, an admonition or immediately following a suspension. Probation can also be imposed as a condition of readmission or reinstatement.

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