Lawyer Suspended for Failing to Self-Report Disciplinary Violation

no-whistle-blowingThe Indiana Supreme Court recently suspended an Indianapolis lawyer for failing to notify disciplinary authorities that he had been convicted for driving while intoxicated. See In re Selig, No. 49S00-1305-DI-345 (Nov. 27, 2013). Could that happen in Louisiana?

No. Louisiana Rule 8.3(a) provides that “[a] lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a question as to the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.” Self-reporting is not required by this Louisiana rule because the obligation to report exists only as to a violation of the rules by “another” lawyer.  Indiana, in contrast, has a disciplinary rule that expressly requires a lawyer to self-report any criminal conviction.

Nevertheless, self-reporting in Louisiana may be the prudent course of action. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel and LADB could consider a lawyer’s self-report as a “mitigating” factor if disciplinary sanctions are ever imposed for the conviction or underlying conduct. The best advice: consult with counsel experienced in dealing with disciplinary matters before making a decision to self-report.

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