Getting In Trouble, The Sequel: The Severe Sanctions

Our Massachusetts legal malpractice blog,, tries to give updates to the law. In addition, we have undertaken a study of all of the lawyer disciplinary matters in Massachusetts for 2008-2010 which was published in our website.

That study reviews all 57 admonitions and breaks them down into the types of cases, years in practice and discusses the aggravating and mitigating factors. We reported that study on our legal malpractice blog on January 12, 2011.
In our new study, published today, we review the more serious Board of Bar Overseers cases. The cases we review are the ones in which an attorney in Massachusetts loses his or her license to practice law. In the 116 cases of public reprimands, term suspensions, indefinite suspensions, we examine what Massachusetts lawyers did to deserve the severe penalties.
The study examines all 116 severe discipline cases from 2010, analyzing the data using the following criterion: years in practice, fields of practice, severity of punishment, type of violation, severity of punishment, aggravating and mitigating factors, and others. The results are published on our website in the Legal Malpractice News section.
We have divided the investigation into six articles, each of which is, or will be, published on our website today:
1. Getting Disbarredbegins with the “juiciest cases” including those involving serious crimes, crimes that make headlines, and those involved with stealing client monies.
2. You’re Suspended! discusses the suspension cases and the reasoning for the terms of suspensions, including why there are so many “year and a day” suspensions.
3. Failing to Learn from Experience reviews the disciplinary cases such as disbarment, suspension and public reprimand and compares the recent incident to the lawyer’s history. We review “experienced lawyers” and “highly experienced lawyers” and see if we can differentiate when it comes to punishment.
4. The Punishment Fits the Crime?, to be published in the future, discusses cases where the resulting sanction seems either too harsh or too lenient for the underlying facts.
5. Private or Public Consequences, to be published in the future, discusses the distinctions between private sanctions (such as reprimands and admonitions) and public sanctions (such as public reprimands).
6. Data Mining, to be published in the future, is a statistical analysis of the raw data, with an eye toward spotting trends in bar discipline.
Undertaking studies such as these are the result of long and laborious reviews of hundreds of documents. We want to thank our extraordinary diligent researcher, Boston Attorney Ezra Reinstein, of The Reinstein Firm, for his focus, his attention to detail, and his hard work in this project. In addition to working in the area of corporate organization and litigation, Attorney Reinstein practices in the national and internationally growing field of renewable energy law.