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2023 Investigative Summary 15


OPR conducted five investigations involving Department attorneys whose only active bar membership had been suspended due to their failure to timely pay annual bar membership dues.  With respect to each matter, OPR determined that the attorney violated the Department’s clear and unambiguous policy to continuously maintain an active bar membership in at least one state or territory, or the District of Columbia, while employed as a Department attorney.  In two of the matters, OPR concluded that the attorneys acted recklessly when they failed to timely update their contact information with the bar and inaccurately certified on the Department’s Form 54-A “Attorney’s Bar Re-Certification” that they had provided the bar with their current email and office address when they had not done so.  As a result, the attorneys did not receive multiple notices sent to them from the bar concerning their dues, failed to timely pay their bar dues, and were suspended for multiple weeks.  In another matter, OPR found that the attorney acted recklessly after she failed to pay her dues despite receiving and reading a notice from the bar stating that it was time to pay her membership dues.  In two matters, OPR determined that the attorneys’ conduct did not rise to the level of professional misconduct and instead found that the attorneys exercised poor judgment and referred the matters to their respective components to review for imposition of discipline.   OPR noted in both matters that its determination would likely be different in the future following its May 2, 2023 email and memorandum to all Department attorneys reminding them that they have a personal obligation to at all times maintain an active bar license regardless of whether they receive a notice from the bar reminding them of their obligation to pay their dues.          

OPR referred the matters involving professional misconduct to the PMRU, which upheld OPR’s findings and conclusions and imposed discipline in all three matters.

Updated February 14, 2024