Back to that fingerprinting.
We noted in a blog post from earlier this year the new fingerprinting onus placed upon practicing California attorneys. All of the state’s approximately 190,000 active practitioners must be fingerprinted by state law enforcement officials no later than April 30 of next year.
We pointed out the obvious aim of that in our April 12 blog entry, namely, “to flush out illegal or questionable behaviors that attorneys have not divulged to California legal authorities.”
A failure to report data perceived as relevant by state bar officials – even information that might not be criminal – can bring a backlash, including formal disciplinary proceedings. We noted in the above-cited post that, ultimately, “an affected lawyer’s license could be on the line.”
That degree of seriousness is what is emphasized in a recent article from the legal publication The Recorder. A central point that its author consistently hammers home is that unreported criminal convictions bar authorities learn about via post-fingerprinting reports from enforcement agencies (think FBI, for example) will bring swift reprisals.
To wit: If you are an identified attorney with a criminal record you never divulged, you are flat-out going to be hearing from the California State Bar.
Moreover, that notification will be in the form of a formal communication that could bring life-changing consequences. A disciplinary action can result in heavy fines and license suspension. In a worse-case scenario, it can even yield permanent disbarment from the legal profession.
It hardly gets more serious than that. The above article’s writer conveys the important point that attorneys who are potentially in trouble with the bar are well served by securing proven legal help as early in the possible in the process. Experienced license defense attorneys can contest findings, present mitigating factors and otherwise argue for leniency on behalf of a client.
That level of advocacy is merited – indeed, urgently required – when a professional career is potentially on the line.