FAQs for Attorneys

  1. General Questions
  2. Attorney Registration
  3. Responding To A Complaint
  4. Reporting Misconduct
  5. Disbarments, Suspensions & Transfers To Inactive Status
  6. Employing Disbarred, Suspended, Or Inactive Attorneys
  7. Attorney Reinstatement

I. General Questions

Where can I find the ethics rules online?

An ethical question has arisen in the course of my practice of law. Should I contact the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for advice, guidance and an ethics opinion?

No. The policy of the Disciplinary Board is that neither the Disciplinary Board nor Disciplinary Counsel will provide advice, guidance or advisory opinions on specific matters that may come before the Disciplinary Board on complaint. Attorneys who are members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and who have a question concerning their own prospective ethical conduct regarding a current situation are referred to the Ethics Hotline of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, (800) 932-0311 Ext. 2214 or (717) 238-6715 [note: this service is not available to the general public or to attorneys who are not members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association]. Philadelphia Bar Association members are also referred to the Professional Guidance Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association at (215) 238-6328. In some instances, these organizations may issue a formal written ethics opinion. Ethics opinions issued by the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations are not binding on the Disciplinary Board. Attorneys with ethical concerns should also consider consulting with an attorney experienced in matters involving attorney ethics and disciplinary procedures. Appropriate steps should always be taken to document efforts to obtain counsel and advice as well as the results of those efforts. An attorney's efforts to obtain guidance and advice may be relevant during a future disciplinary inquiry by the Disciplinary Board.

What if I have a disability and need accommodations to attend a court proceeding or activity?

Are there resources available that provide guidance to attorneys on trust account matters?

In cooperation with the Disciplinary Board, the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board developed and revised “Fiduciary Requirements for Lawyers in Pennsylvania Handling Property of Clients and Others.”

II. Attorney Registration

A. General

Attorney Registration Office’s Commonly Used Terminology

Click here for status definitions.

Where can I find the rules addressing attorney registration requirements in Pennsylvania?

B. Annual Registration

Am I required to complete my Pennsylvania Attorney Registration online?

Yes. Attorneys must complete and submit the annual attorney registration through the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System’s (UJS) web portal. The portal opens in May and registration must be completed and payment made by July 1.

How much is my annual fee and when is it due?

The annual fee is due on July 1. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has determined that the current fee assessment and allocation will be as follows:

  • Active - $225 (Disciplinary Board $120; Client Security $75; IOLTA $30)
  • Inactive $100

Penalties:

  • First Late Fee Assessed August 1 - $200
  • Additional Late Fee Assessed September 1 - $200
  • Returned Check Fee - $100

How do I submit the Financial Data on the registration form?

Complete all fields in the Eligible Institutions section of the form. For more Financial Data help, click here.

How do I apply for an exemption from electronic filing?

If you believe that extenuating circumstances limit you from being able to comply with the mandatory online registration requirement, please submit such request in writing, together with supporting documentation to the Attorney Registration Office.

What happens if I don’t complete my annual registration?

Failure to complete your annual registration shall be deemed a request to be administratively suspended, pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 219(f). An administratively suspended attorney may not practice law within the Commonwealth and shall provide written notice to all clients and otherwise comply with all requirements of Pa.R.D.E. 217 relating to formerly admitted attorneys.

C. Information Updates

How do I update my contact information?

Submit your address change here. All changes in contact information must be reported to the Attorney Registration Office in writing within thirty (30) days of such change.

What do I do if I lost my attorney license card?

You can request a replacement license card by emailing atty.registration@pacourts.us or by faxing the Attorney Registration Office at (717) 231-3381. Please include your full name and attorney ID number. There is no fee for this request.

How do I change my registered name?

If you wish to practice under a name other than that which you were admitted, you must submit a Request for Name Change form to the Attorney Registration Office. You will be required to provide additional documentation demonstrating such change.

How do I update my professional liability insurance information?

Complete and return a Professional Liability Insurance Certification form to the Attorney Registration Office. Pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 219(d)(3), every attorney who has filed an annual registration form must notify the Attorney Registration Office in writing of any change in the information previously submitted within 30 days after such change will apply.

D. Status Changes

How do I assume Inactive Status?

If you have filed your registration for the current year, submit a Request for Inactive Status.

If you have not filed the current registration form, select Inactive on the annual registration form and submit the appropriate payment.

How do I assume Retired Status?

If you have filed your registration for the current year, submit an Application for Retirement.

If you have not filed the current registration form, select Retired on the annual registration form and submit any applicable late penalties.

How do I return to Active status if I have been Retired, Inactive, or Administratively Suspended for less than three (3) years?

  • Retired: An attorney on retired status for three years or less may be reinstated to active status by filing the annual registration statement and paying the active annual fee for the three most recent years or such shorter period in which the attorney was on retired status, and any arrears accumulated prior to the assumption of retired status. See Pa.R.D.E. 219(i).
  • Inactive: An attorney on inactive status for three years or less may be reinstated to active status by filing the annual registration statement and paying the current active annual fee for the assessment year in which the request is made or the difference between the active annual fee and the inactive annual fee that has been paid for that year, and any arrears accumulated prior to the assumption of inactive status. See Pa.R.D.E. 219(j).
  • Administrative Suspension: An attorney on administrative suspension for three years or less shall file the annual registration statement and pay the current annual fee; the annual fee that would have beendue if the person had not been administratively suspended; the late payment penalty; and a reinstatement fee of $300.00. See Pa.R.D.E. 219(h).

Upon reinstatement, the Attorney Registration Office will mail a license card showing that you are authorized to practice law in Pennsylvania for the current registration year.

How do I return to Active status if I have been Retired, Inactive, or Administratively Suspended for more than three (3) years?

If you wish to resume practice, you must file a petition for reinstatement with the Disciplinary Board pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 218. You will be required to complete accredited PA CLE courses and prove that you have the moral qualifications, competency and learning in the law required for admission to practice in the Commonwealth.

Click here for the appropriate forms.

E. Judges

Who do I notify if I am elected or appointed to a State or Federal Court of record in Pennsylvania?

File a notice that you have been elected or appointed with the Attorney Registration Office. Rule 219(b), Pa.R.D.E. states that Justices and Judges serving in the following Pennsylvania courts of record shall be exempt from payment of the annual fee for such time as they serve in office: Supreme, Superior, Commonwealth, Common Pleas, and Philadelphia Municipal; and justices or judges serving an appointment for life on any federal court.

Note: The exemption does not include Philadelphia Traffic Court judges, Pittsburgh Municipal Court judges, magisterial district judges, arraignment court magistrates or administrative law judges.

How do I return to Active status if I was a justice or judge?

File a notice stating your wish to resume the practice of law. The notice shall disclose any discipline imposed by the Judicial Conduct Board within the past six years or any proceeding before the Judicial Conduct Board or Court of Judicial Discipline when resulted in resignation or entry into a rehabilitation program; if either scenarios are disclosed, the jurist must also submit a waiver, available through the Attorney Registration Office, of the confidentiality of those records for the limited purpose of review by the Board. Thereafter, an annual fee form will be provided by the Attorney Registration Office, to be filed and submitted with the full annual fee for the assessment year in which the notice is filed.

F. Certifications

How do I obtain a Certificate of Good Standing?

If you are an active attorney, you may request a Certificate of Good Standing from the Prothonotary’s Office of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. For more information click here.

If I am inactive, can I obtain a Certificate of Good Standing?

No. If you are an inactive attorney, you may request a Certification of Status in Lieu of a Certificate of Good Standing from the Attorney Registration Office by submitting a Request for Certification of Status. Each original copy is $25.

How do I obtain a statement regarding disciplinary complaints filed and/or discipline imposed?

File a Request for Disciplinary History with the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

G. Resources

How do I become licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania?

Visit the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners’ website for more information.

How many CLE credits do I need and when are they due?

Visit the Continuing Legal Education Board’s website for more information.

How do I contact the IOLTA Board?

Visit the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board’s website for more information.

Is my bank approved as a depository for fiduciary accounts?

A list of approved financial institutions is available here.

III. Responding To A Complaint

Will I know if a complaint has been filed against me?

Not necessarily. You will be notified in writing if an investigation is serious enough to warrant requesting information/documentation from you.

What should I do if I get a letter of inquiry from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?

First, do not panic. Read the letter through. Remember that the alleged facts set forth are allegations only. We rely on attorneys who receive these letters to provide us with clarifying information. This letter provides an attorney with an opportunity to set forth your version of the facts of the matters. As is stated in our letter, we have not prejudged the matter.

Many of our complaints in which we send such letters end in the dismissal of the complaint, once we have the attorney's position. It may not be necessary for you to retain counsel before responding. If you do not feel at ease in responding, or feel that you may in fact have violated the Pa.R.P.C. or Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, it may be wise for you to at least consult with counsel before responding. You, of course, have the right to counsel in such cases.

IV. Reporting Misconduct

Am I obligated to report any violation of the Pa.R.P.C.?

PA.R.P.C. 8.3(a) states that a lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Pa.R.P.C. that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority. The comment to PA.R.P.C. 8.3 states:" This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provision of this Rule. The term 'substantial' refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. A report should be made to the bar disciplinary agency unless some other agency, such as a peer review agency, is more appropriate in the circumstances." Moreover, PA.R.P.C. 8.3(c) does not require reporting where it would involve a violation of the Confidentiality Rules of PA.R.P.C. 1.6 nor does it apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. Finally there is an exemption with respect to information that would be privileged if the relationship between the impaired lawyer and the recipient of the information were that of a client and lawyer. See Comment.

If I conclude I must or should report a fellow attorney or file a complaint with the Disciplinary Board, how should I do so?

Instructions for filing complaints, including a list of documentation which should be provided if available, are found here. You may either submit a letter or use the Disciplinary Board's complaint forms, but or complaints must be in writing.

V. Disbarments, Suspensions & Transfers To Inactive Status

Click here for the full text of Enforcement Rule 217.

When does my disbarment, suspension or transfer to inactive status take effect?

All of these orders take effect 30 days after the date of the Court’s order, unless a suspension or disbarment is made retroactive to a date of temporary suspension. In this case, the order will clearly state that the discipline is retroactive and will also include the effective date.

Can I still continue to practice until the order takes effect?

Rule 217(d)(1), Pa.R.D.E. states that after the entry of the order, an attorney shall not accept any new retainer or engage as attorney for another in any new case or legal matter of any nature. However, during the period from the entry of the order and its effective date you may wind up and complete, on behalf of any client, all matters which were pending on the entry date of the order.

Can I transfer my client files to another attorney?

No. Each client is to be put in a position to make an informed choice as to who is to represent him or her in connection with the legal matter in which you represented the client, and his or her expressed directions must be observed by you. When a new attorney is selected by the client, you must promptly make the client’s file available to the new attorney.

Can I be compensated for work I performed on the file?

Yes. You are not to share in any fee for legal services performed by another attorney after your order takes effect, but you may be compensated for the reasonable value of your services rendered and disbursements incurred prior to the effective date of the order. In no event should the reasonable value of your services, and those of the substituted attorney, exceed the amount the client would have had to pay, had no substitution of counsel been required.

What other steps must I take to disengage from the practice of law?

You must promptly cease and desist from using all forms of communication that expressly or implicitly convey your eligibility to practice law in the state courts of Pennsylvania, including but not limited to professional titles, letterhead, business cards, signage, websites, and references to admission to the Pennsylvania Bar.

Are there any additional steps I need to take?

Yes. In cases of disbarment, suspension for a period exceeding one year, temporary suspension under Enforcement Rule 208(f) or 213(g), or disability inactive status under Enforcement Rule 216 or 301, you are also required to promptly:

  1. resign all appointments as personal representative, executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, receiver, trustee, agent under a power of attorney, or other fiduciary position;
  2. close every IOLTA, Trust, client and fiduciary account;
  3. properly disburse or otherwise transfer all client and fiduciary funds in his or her possession, custody or control; and
  4. take all necessary steps to cancel or discontinue the next regular publication of all advertisements and telecommunication listings that expressly or implicitly convey eligibility to practice law in the state courts of Pennsylvania.

Do I have to do anything with my wall certificate of admission?

Rule 217(h), Pa.R.D.E. states that within 10 days after the effective date of the order, attorneys who have been disbarred or suspended for a period longer than one year, must surrender to the Disciplinary Board the Attorney I.D. card for the current year, along with any Certificates of Good Standing issued by the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court and any Certificates of Admission issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Board will retain these Certificates and will return them to the attorney in the event he or she is subsequently reinstated.

Do I have to keep records of these steps I’ve taken?

Yes. You are required to provide proof of compliance at the time you file your verified statement of compliance. Rule 217(i) also states that proof of compliance with Rule 217 shall be a condition precedent to any petition for reinstatement.

When do I have to file the statement of compliance?

Within ten days after the effective date of the of the disbarment, suspension, administrative suspension or transfer to inactive status order, you are required to file with the Secretary of the Board a verified statement and serve a copy on Disciplinary Counsel.

Is there a form I can use for this?

Yes. You are strongly encouraged to use the standardized Form DB-25 provided by the Board and also available on this website. All of these forms are in the Attorney Forms section, under the categories titled “Compliance Forms.” However, if you elect not to do so and desire to prepare your own verified statement, you must provide the following information:

  1. aver that the provisions of the order and Rule 217 have been fully complied with;
  2. list all other state, federal and administrative jurisdictions to which you are admitted to practice, aver that you have fully complied with the notice requirements of paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Rule 217, and aver that you have attached copies of the notices and proofs of receipt required by (c)(3); or, in the alternative, aver that you were not admitted to practice in any other tribunal, court, agency or jurisdiction;
  3. aver that you have attached copies of the notices required by subdivisions (a), (b), and (c)(1) and (c)(2) of Rule 217 and proofs of receipt, or, in the alternative, aver that you have no clients, third persons to whom a fiduciary duty is owed, or persons with whom you have professional contacts, to so notify;
  4. in cases of disbarment or suspension for a period exceeding one year, aver that you have attached your attorney registration certificate for the current year, certificate of admission, any certificate of good standing issued by the Prothonotary, and any other certificate required by subdivision (h) of Rule 217 to be surrendered; or, in the alternative, aver that you have attached all such documents within your possession, or that you are not in possession of any of the certificates required to be surrendered;
  5. aver that you have complied with the requirements of paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of Rule 217, and aver that you have, to the extent practicable, attached proof of compliance, including evidence of the destruction, removal, or abandonment of indicia of Pennsylvania practice; or, in the alternative, aver that you neither had nor employed any indicia of Pennsylvania practice;
  6. in cases of disbarment, suspension for a period exceeding one year, temporary suspension under Rule 208(f) or 213(g), or disability inactive status under Rule 216 or 301, aver that you have complied with the requirements of paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) of Rule 217, and aver that you have attached proof of compliance, including resignation notices, evidence of the closing of accounts, copies of cancelled checks and other instruments demonstrating the proper distribution of client and fiduciary funds, and requests to cancel advertisements and telecommunication listings; or, in the alternative, aver that you have no applicable appointments, accounts, funds. advertisements, or telecommunication listings;
  7. aver that you have served a copy of the verified statement and its attachments on the Office of Disciplinary Counsel;
  8. set forth the residence or other address where communications to you may thereafter be directed; and
  9. sign the statement.

Finally, the statement shall contain an averment that all statements contained therein are true and correct to the best of the formerly admitted attorney’s knowledge, information and belief, and are made subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.

Where does the Statement of Compliance get filed?

The original Statement, copies of notices and other documented proof of compliance must be sent to the Office of the Secretary of the Board, located at 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 5600, PO Box 62625, Harrisburg, PA 17106-2625. It does not need to be filed in person and can be mailed to the office. Copies of the Statement and its attachments must be served on the Office of Disciplinary Counsel District Office that prosecuted the case against you.

When am I required to pay the costs of my disciplinary proceeding?

Rule 208(g), Pa.R.D.E. provides that the Supreme Court in its discretion may direct that the necessary expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of a proceeding which results in the imposition of discipline shall be paid by the respondent-attorney within 30 days after entry of the order taxing the expenses against the attorney.

Can I work as a paralegal or legal assistant after the effective date of the order?

Rule 217(j), Pa.R.D.E. states that a formerly admitted attorney may not engage in any form of law-related activities in this Commonwealth except in accordance with requirements within that Rule. Click here to see Rule 217(j) [link to Rule 217(j) excerpt] Also see Section VI EMPLOYING DISBARRED, SUSPENDED, OR INACTIVE ATTORNEYS

Where can I get the compliance forms for Formerly Admitted Attorneys?

Click Attorney Forms to view the menu of Forms available on this website.

VI. Employing Disbarred, Suspended, Or Inactive Attorneys

A colleague of mine was suspended from the practice of law a few years ago and is down on his luck. He seems to have reformed and he is interested in getting back into the practice of law. I would like to offer him some work doing research and drafting with my office. Is it ethical for me to hire a suspended lawyer, and what limitations should I put on his duties?

Rule 217(j) of the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement now sets very specific guidelines as to what law-related work a disbarred, suspended, or inactive former attorney may do. The formerly admitted attorney MAY do the following:

  • legal work of a preparatory nature, such as legal research, assembly of data and other necessary information, and drafting of transactional documents, pleadings, briefs, and other similar documents;
  • direct communication with the client or third parties regarding a matter being handled by the attorney or firm for which the formerly admitted attorney works only if the communication is limited to ministerial matters such as scheduling, billing, updates, confirmation of receipt or sending of correspondence and messages, provided that the formerly admitted attorney shall clearly indicate in any such communication that he or she is a legal assistant and identify the supervising attorney; and
  • accompanying a member in good standing of the Bar of this Commonwealth to a deposition or other discovery matter or to a meeting regarding a matter that is not currently in litigation, for the limited purpose of providing clerical assistance to the member in good standing who appears as the representative of the client.

The formerly admitted attorney shall NOT do any of these activities:

  • performing any law-related activity for a law firm or lawyer if the formerly admitted attorney was associated with that law firm or lawyer on or after the date on which the acts which resulted in the disbarment or suspension occurred, through and including the effective date of disbarment or suspension;
  • performing any law-related services from an office that is not staffed, on a full time basis, by a supervising attorney;
  • performing any law-related services for any client who in the past was represented by the formerly admitted attorney;
  • representing himself or herself as a lawyer or person of similar status;
  • having any contact with clients either in person, by telephone, or in writing, except as provided above;
  • rendering legal consultation or advice to a client;
  • appearing on behalf of a client in any hearing or proceeding or before any judicial officer, arbitrator, mediator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, hearing officer or any other adjudicative person or body;
  • appearing as a representative of the client at a deposition or other discovery matter;
  • negotiating or transacting any matter for or on behalf of a client with third parties or having any contact with third parties regarding such a negotiation or transaction; or
  • receiving, disbursing or otherwise handling client funds.

You and the formerly admitted attorney must file a notice of employment with the Disciplinary Board, identifying the supervising attorney, certifying that the formerly admitted attorney has been employed and that the formerly admitted attorney's activities will be monitored for compliance with these requirements. You should also file a notice with the Disciplinary Board upon termination of the formerly admitted attorney's services.

Be very careful to familiarize yourself with these requirements and supervise the work of a formerly admitted attorney in your employment, as Rule 217(j)(6) specifically states that you may be subject to discipline for any failure by either you or the formerly admitted attorney to comply with these requirements.

VII. Attorney Reinstatement

Click here for a complete set of the Enforcement Rules and Disciplinary Board Rules applicable to filing for reinstatement.

A. General Information about Reinstatement

What CLE courses must I take to file for reinstatement?

The Current Schedule of Continuing Legal Education Courses Required for Reinstatement Under §§89.275 and 89.279 requires that all formerly admitted attorneys take a minimum of thirty-six (36) hours of accredited PA CLE courses with a minimum twelve (12) of those hours in the area of Ethics. Click here to download the Current Schedule.

When do I have to complete my 36 hours of CLE courses?

Only courses taken within one year preceding the filing of the petition for reinstatement are credited.

Can I file for reinstatement even if I haven't taken all of the CLE courses?

No. Recent amendments to the Disciplinary Board's Rules and Procedures require that all courses be completed prior to filing for reinstatement.

Do I have to provide proof of attendance at the CLE courses I have already taken?

Yes. CLE providers have 30 days after presentation of the course to file the list of attendees with the PA CLE Board. If completed courses are not yet on CLE's records and proof of attendance is not attached to the Reinstatement Questionnaire, the petition for reinstatement will be returned to you as "incomplete." You may obtain a copy of your PA CLE Course Record by accessing the MyPACLE login from the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board's website at www.pacle.org or by calling the PA CLE office at 800-497-2253.

Is there a filing fee for petitions for reinstatement filed with the Disciplinary Board?

No. However, the Board will recommend to the Supreme Court that the costs incurred in processing the petition for reinstatement be paid by the petitioner at the end of the proceeding.

Where do I file my petition for reinstatement?

All petitions for reinstatement and accompanying forms and documents must be filed with the Office of the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board, located at 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 5600, PO Box 62625, Harrisburg, PA 17106-2625.

B. FAQ by Attorneys on Inactive Status, Retired Status or Administrative Suspension

Can I pay all my back fees and avoid the reinstatement process?

No. Rule 218, Pa.R.D.E. states that no attorney who has been on retired, status, inactive status or administrative suspension for more than three years may resume practice until reinstated by order of the Supreme Court after the filing of a petition for reinstatement.

How do I apply to be reinstated if I have been on inactive status, retired status or administrative suspension for more than three years?

You must file a petition of reinstatement with the Office of the Secretary of the Disciplinary board – in addition to a petition, one original and one copy of the Questionnaire must be completed and filed and four (4) notarized original Waivers of Confidentiality must be submitted. Click on the links to download the appropriate forms.

What happens after I file my petition for reinstatement?

Rule 218(b)(2), Pa.R.D.E. was recently amended to provide that after a petition for reinstatement is filed with the Board, it is referred to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC), who has 60 days to file a response to the petition and serve a copy on the formerly admitted attorney. If Disciplinary Counsel objects to the reinstatement, the response to the petition should explain in reasonable detail the reasons for the objection.

What happens if ODC objects to my reinstatement?

If Disciplinary Counsel objects to the reinstatement, the response to the petition will explain in reasonable detail the reasons for the objection. After the response is filed, the petition and response are referred to a single hearing committee member, and the Hearing Coordinator on staff in the Office of the Secretary will work with the hearing committee member, petitioner and Disciplinary Counsel in scheduling a date for the reinstatement hearing.

What happens after the hearing?

The hearing committee member files a report containing his/her findings and recommendations to the Board. Both parties have the right to file exceptions to the report. The case will then be considered by the Board, after which the Board will file its own report and recommendation with the Supreme Court, together with the original record. The Supreme Court will then enter an order either granting or denying the reinstatement.

What happens if ODC does not object to my reinstatement?

ODC files a certification with the Board Secretary stating that after a review of the petition and reasonably diligent inquiry, ODC has determined that there is no impediment to reinstatement and the petitioner will meet his or her burden of proof under the Rules. Upon receipt of such a certification, the Secretary assigns the case to a single member of the Board to review the record and certification and to issue a report and recommendation.

If the Board Member approves the reinstatement, the Board Member's report and the record are forwarded to the Supreme Court. The Deputy Prothonotary of the Court has the authority to sign these orders of reinstatement. It should take about two weeks from the time the case is submitted to the Supreme Court for a final order to be entered.

How long can I expect this reinstatement process to take?

That depends on two tracks the reinstatement could follow:

  1. If Disciplinary Counsel files a certification with the Board Secretary stating that after a review of the petition for reinstatement and reasonably diligent inquiry, ODC has determined that there is no impediment to reinstatement and that the petitioner-attorney will met his or her burden of proof under the Rules, there is no need to proceed to a hearing. In that case, the petition for reinstatement and certification will be assigned to a single member of the Board to review and record and issue a report and recommendation. If the Board Member recommends the reinstatement, the record is forwarded to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court for entry of an order of reinstatement. This process averages three months.
  2. If Disciplinary Counsel opposes the reinstatement or the assigned Board Member decides that a hearing on the petition is warranted, the petition is referred to a single hearing committee member to conduct a hearing. This process could average between four to six months.

Can I motion for waiver of the CLE requirements?

Board Rule §89.279(b) provides that the Board Chair may waive the CLE requirements for good cause shown in the case of a formerly admitted attorney who has been inactive for more than three years. A Motion for Waiver setting forth the reasons for the motion and attaching any documentation supporting the request should be filed with the Office of the Secretary of the Board.

What happens if my Motion for Waiver is denied?

If a Motion for Waiver is denied by the Board Chair, the petition for reinstatement, Special Reinstatement Questionnaires and Waiver of Confidentiality forms will be returned to the attorney with the request that he/she complete the required courses and re-file the petition for reinstatement.

C. FAQ by Disbarred or Suspended Attorneys

When can I file for reinstatement?

Suspended attorneys may file for reinstatement nine (9) months prior to the expiration of the term of suspension. Disbarred attorneys may not apply for reinstatement until the expiration of at least five years from the effective date of the disbarment.

Do I have to pay the costs from my prior disciplinary proceeding before I can file for reinstatement?

Yes. Board Rule §89.272(b) provides that the Board will not entertain a petition for reinstatement filed before the formerly admitted attorney has paid in full any costs relating to any prior disciplinary or reinstatement proceeding. To determine if you owe any outstanding costs, call the Office of the Secretary at 717-231-3380.

Can I file for reinstatement if I owe money to the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security?

No. Board Rule §89.272(b) provides that the Board will not entertain a petition for reinstatement filed if the formerly admitted attorney has not made required restitution to the Lawyers Fund. To determine if there are any outstanding claims against you, call the Lawyers Fund at 1-800-962-4618.

What forms do I need to file for reinstatement from suspension or disbarment?

All suspended and disbarred attorneys must file one (1) original petition of reinstatement, four (4) copies of the Reinstatement Questionnaire, and ten (10) notarized copies of the Authorization and Release form.

Note: Any attachments required in the Reinstatement Questionnaire must also be filed in quadruplicate.

How long can I expect this reinstatement process to take?

The reinstatement process for a disbarred or suspended attorney normally takes between nine (9) months to one (1) year to be completed.

D. Law Related Activities

I am currently under an order of suspension, but I would like to apply for reinstatement when my period of suspension is up. A former colleague has offered me a job doing research and drafting in her law office. I could use the work, and I think this would be good preparation for when I resume the practice of law. May I accept her offer of employment?

Rule 217(j) of the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement now sets very specific guidelines as to what law-related work a disbarred, suspended, or inactive former attorney may do. While on disbarred, suspended, or inactive status, you MAY do the following:

  • legal work of a preparatory nature, such as legal research, assembly of data and other necessary information, and drafting of transactional documents, pleadings, briefs, and other similar documents;
  • direct communication with the client or third parties regarding a matter being handled by the attorney or firm for which you work, only if the communication is limited to ministerial matters such as scheduling, billing, updates, confirmation of receipt or sending of correspondence and messages, provided that you shall clearly indicate in any such communication that you are a legal assistant and identify the supervising attorney; and
  • accompanying a member in good standing of the Bar of this Commonwealth to a deposition or other discovery matter or to a meeting regarding a matter that is not currently in litigation, for the limited purpose of providing clerical assistance to the member in good standing who appears as the representative of the client.

You shall NOT do any of these activities:

  • performing any law-related activity for a law firm, organization or lawyer if you were associated with that law firm, organization or lawyer on or after the date on which the acts which resulted in the disbarment or suspension occurred, through and including the effective date of disbarment or suspension;
  • performing any law-related services from an office that is not staffed by a supervising attorney on a full time basis;
  • performing any law-related services for any client who in the past was represented by you as an attorney;
  • representing yourself as a lawyer or person of similar status;
  • having any contact with clients either in person, by telephone, or in writing, except as provided above;
  • rendering legal consultation or advice to a client;
  • appearing on behalf of a client in any hearing or proceeding or before any judicial officer, arbitrator, mediator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, hearing officer or any other adjudicative person or body;
  • appearing as a representative of the client at a deposition or other discovery matter;
  • negotiating or transacting any matter for or on behalf of a client with third parties or having any contact with third parties regarding such a negotiation or transaction; or
  • receiving, disbursing or otherwise handling client funds.

You and your employer must file a notice of engagement with the Disciplinary Board, identifying the supervising attorney, certifying that you have been employed and that your activities will be monitored for compliance with these requirements. You should also file a notice with the Disciplinary Board upon termination of your engagement with the lawyer or law office.