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A D.C. Bar committee has recommended some dramatic changes in the way lawyers are disciplined in the District. If approved, the changes would significantly streamline the cumbersome process and in some cases reduce the number of steps involved in punishing lawyers. One of the biggest changes, announced March 6, would allow the Office of the Bar Counsel to enter into “consent to discipline” agreements in some matters where both parties agree on the underlying facts. Final approval of the agreement would come from the Board on Professional Responsibility and would not have to go through the D.C. Court of Appeals. Other recommendations would remove the role of the hearing committee in some cases and permit default judgments in cases where the lawyer fails to participate. John Payton, a partner at WilmerHale and chairman of the committee, says he expects lots of comments about the changes but believes that once lawyers understand the recommendations, they will be comfortable with them. The committee will hold a hearing about the proposed changes on March 27.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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