It turns out that attorneys can get disbarred from a jurisdiction where they are not even admitted to practice.
Attorney Leonard Kingsley has been disbarred from Delaware and Pennsylvania for helping an accountant prepare estate documents. He is licensed to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania but not Delaware, according to the ABA Journal.
As a result, Leonard Kingsley was charged with engaging in and assisting in the unauthorized practice of law and related violations in the state of Delaware.
While the Delaware tribunal found that Leonard Kingsley did not violate the rules intentionally, he was disbarred from Delaware even though he was not initially licensed in the jurisdiction to begin with. Pennsylvania disbarred Leonard Kingsley based on reciprocity.
While disbarment in Delaware is typically not permanent for most attorneys, disbarment for an attorney not admitted to practice in the state means an "unconditional exclusion from the admission to or the exercise of any privilege to practice law in this state."
However, Leonard Kingsley can still practice in New Jersey. The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board explained in their written opinion that Leonard Kingsley's unintentional conduct would result in censure, not suspension of his license to practice law in the state. The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board gave great weight to the findings by the Delaware Disciplinary Board that Kingsley's actions had been negligent, according to the Legal Profession Blog. The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board noted that Leonard Kingsley was an inexperienced attorney along with this finding of negligence.
While is not often that a disbarment leads to a reciprocal censure, this case illustrates that it can happen.
- Legal Dictionary: Ethics & Professional Responsibility (FindLaw)
- Reciprocal Disbarment of a Judge Upheld (FindLaw's 6th Circuit Blog)
- What If I Feel That My Lawyer Has Acted Unethically? (FindLaw)