Other Professional Challenges

Self report

Attorneys are required to self-report a variety of adverse actions taken against them. Failure to report is a separate offense. However, few adverse actions result in automatic discipline. Often the court findings are not binding on the State Bar Court. Contact attorneys who know the legal principles.


There is no automatic discipline for sanctions. Most sanctions have to be reported to the State Bar, even if there is a petition for rehearing or an appeal pending.


There is no automatic discipline for contempt. The best defense is to avoid the finding of contempt. When the judge is angry at you, you are not the best person to explain yourself. At Fishkin & Slatter LLP, we can represent you in the contempt hearing while we keep an eye on State Bar ramifications at the same time.

Habeas corpus reversals

A writ of habeas corpus may be granted years after a criminal defendant was found guilty. If the writ is granted due to prosecutor misconduct, the Deputy D A has to report to the State Bar and explain the decades old decision-making. If the writ is granted due to ineffective assistance of counsel, then the defense attorney has to report to the State Bar and explain the decades old decision-making. We have experience representing the target attorney, regardless of which role the attorney played at trial.

Criminal prosecutions of an attorney

If you are convicted of any crime, you will face disciplinary charges also. Some prosecutions have to be reported while the case against you is still pending. At Fishkin & Slatter LLP, we encourage you to employ State Bar Counsel right after you employ criminal defense counsel. We can help with plea bargaining advice that could dramatically affect the outcome of your post conviction State Bar case.

Testimony by an attorney of record

If the adverse party subpoenas you to testify at a trial, or if the other side attempts to take your deposition, there are ways to defeat or limit those efforts.

Alcohol and Drug Issues

If you have a problem with alcohol or drug use, take action now! Do so for yourself as well as part of your duties to clients. The State Bar sponsored program is LAP (Lawyers Assistance Program). Call 1-800-341-0572 for confidential information. Attorneys with disciplinary cases, who participate in LAP, may qualify for ADP (Alternative Discipline Program), which may result in a lesser level of discipline. The Other Bar - www.otherbar.org -- is a voluntary association of attorneys and judges with substance abuse issues. It is not sponsored by the State Bar. Call 1-800-222-0767 for confidential information. Substance abuse is a serious problem, personally and professionally. We have clients who have become sober and are willing to share their stories with you.

Duties to Nonclients:

California attorneys can have fiduciary duties to prospective clients, opposing parties, witnesses, or heirs of your clients. If a third party pays the bill, duties to the client and the payor can be complex.

Immigration Lawyers

Both the EOIR and the USCIS have their own Rules of Professional Conduct. We have seen an uptick in the disciplinary inquiries from both agencies. When you go to Federal Court, remember that each District Court requires a separate admission – your State Court admission does not cover Federal Courts

Law Firm Changes

When you move from one firm to another, or add a partner, or start planning for retirement, the business and ethics issues overlap in a very complicated way.

Federal Court Admission

Each District Court requires a separate admission. The same goes for US Courts of Appeal and the US Supreme Court.