What is Administrative Suspension?

We’re dealing with an attorney in Florida who was licensed in MA and listed as “administrative suspended.”  What does this mean?  Should we be concerned?  We have suspicions of an “underlying agenda” and that he may not be completely forthright. Thanks very much.  [10/12]

We’ll begin with our usual caveat that LCL’s mission and areas of expertise have to do with the human side of lawyering – stress, family problems, depression, behavioral or addictive problems, etc.  But we can respond to your question by turning to information from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (BBO), whose Office of Bar Counsel handles matters of professional conduct/misconduct and discipline.

As described in the article, Dues and Don’t’s by Roger Geller and Susan Strauss Weisberg, administrative suspension occurs in situations such as when a Massachusetts attorney either (a) fails to pay the annual registration fee or (b) fails to reply in a timely manner to correspondence (typically involving investigation of possible misconduct) from the BBO.  That is, administrative suspension does not necessarily indicate that the lawyer has misbehaved beyond these kinds of failures in the realm of payment and communication.  However, it is a suspension, and while it is in force the attorney is prohibited from practicing.

Our clinical experience is that lawyers who ignore fees and correspondence are often suffering from depression, alcoholism, or other personal problems that impair their ability to take care of business.  We urge Massachusetts attorneys to come and confer with us as soon as they get an inkling that they are going down this road.

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