As noted in my last column, major changes are coming to attorney discipline. The new statewide rules governing attorney disciplinary procedures, which were originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016 (the new “uniform rules’), are now set for implementation as of Oct. 1, 2016. The previous column focused on formal proceedings, or, as the uniform rules describe, “Proceedings in the Appellate Division.” In this column, I will address informal discipline, or as the uniform rules put it, “Proceedings Before Committees.” But first, a very brief overview.
Informal discipline is simply another way of saying that a committee has determined, after investigation, to impose a private, confidential sanction upon a lawyer who violated, or came close to violating, a Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC), but the infraction was not so serious as to warrant charges, a formal proceeding, and potential public discipline. Committees generally impose informal discipline by forwarding a “letter” to the attorney.
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