When is an attorney disbarred?

Whether an attorney has been cited for legal malpractice or has been reprimanded for committing a crime, he or she runs the risk of losing their license to practice law. When attorneys pass the state bar exam, they are able to practice law in that state. They also take an oath to uphold the state and federal laws of the United States and to serve their clients to the best of their abilities. A failure to do so may result in disbarment, which takes away the ability to practice law in that particular jurisdiction. 

What types of activities may result in an attorney disbarment? Attorneys are expected to uphold ‘fiduciary duty’ when caring for their clients. This means that attorneys use a high standard of care when representing clients and puts the client’s interests before their own. After attorneys receive verbal warnings, written warnings and a suspension of their license, they may lose their license to practice permanently. Other activities that may lead to disbarment include the following:

  • Stealing from a client

  • Failing to perform legal services as promised upon payment with refusal to give a refund if those services are not performed

  • Lying on the state bar exam

  • Commiting a crime

  • Corruption

If an attorney acts in such a way that he or she is no longer trustworthy, honest or just, he or she may lose their license. Keep in mind that once licensed, attorneys are responsible for completing continuing education as well. 

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.