Good ole fashioned investigative journalism out of Rhode Island has revealed that three of the state's high-ranking lawyers did not have active licenses to practice law in the state. As a result, all three have since resigned their positions.
For attorneys across the nation, there are a few important lessons to learn from each of these three attorneys' resignations. And while their breaches were not as severe as those that often make it into the Greedy Associates blog, they each can teach us something important.
1. Don't Ignore CLE Requirements
Yes, CLE can often feel like a complete waste of time and money. But that's as much your fault as the systems. Celebrate your CLE requirement and use it as an opportunity to explore topics you're interested in, or just explore the country.
If you ignore the requirement, you could end up like Gregory Hazian, Rhode Island's now-former senior legal counsel for the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services. He's the most sympathetic of the three, who resigned after being set as inactive for failing to comply with the state's CLE requirement.
2. Pay Your Bar Dues
If you're retired, no longer working in the legal field, seriously ill, or dead, failing to pay bar dues is an acceptable reason for letting your license lapse. Absent those circumstances, simply failing to pay your bar dues is perhaps the most flagrant disregard of the rules, and entitles a lawyer to absolutely no sympathy, particularly for an attorney working for the state's government. Gregory Madoian served as a deputy chief of legal services at the state's Human Services department with Hazian, that is until he forgot to (or just didn't) pay his bar dues and let his license lapse. Reports don't state anything about him fitting into one of the narrow categories for acceptable reasons to fail to pay dues.
3. Don't Flaunt Reciprocity Rules
Piling on to Little Rhody, the state's chief legal counsel for the Rhode Island Department of Education, Jessica Roche who is licensed in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, made headlines after she failed to become licensed in the state within a reasonable amount of time. It appears that she plans on moving out of state, but if she didn't, flaunting reciprocity rules is an easy way to find yourself unlicensed in the state you're actually working in.