- Hire experienced counsel.
It should be no surprise that hiring an experienced reinstatement lawyer increases the chance of success. While it is no guarantee of success, stories are plentiful that former attorneys seeking reinstatement who handle the process on their own have not been nearly as successful as those who use experienced lawyers. There are also numerous stories of inexperienced lawyers not properly navigating the case through the process. While it may seem tempting to try to save money and file the petition on your own, the chances of success are significantly greater if you hire experienced counsel. They have the ability to guide you through the process with an objective perspective, free from the emotions that the petitioner will feel throughout the process.
- Follow the Rules.
It seems ridiculous to remind people that one of the most important things they can do is follow the rules. The process for reinstatement is statutory, and the requirements are clear about what is required and how that information should be presented. It defies belief that someone presenting themselves as a candidate for reinstatement will fail to read or follow the rules, but it happens time and again. To be successfully reinstated, the Rules require that the Petitioner prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the best interests of the public and the profession, as well as the ends of justice, would be served by reinstatement. While the burden is high, proper adherence to the Rules and inclusion of the mandated information certainly make that burden surmountable.
- Disclose, Disclose, Disclose.
It cannot be stated firmly enough that there is no place in this process for non-disclosure. Or under-disclosure. To put it simply, any news is bad news. Because you are going through the reinstatement process, it is no secret that you have had difficulties in the past, whether that be with substances, depression, criminal charges, or a host of other problems. But because your past difficulties are known, take the opportunity to be completely forthright and disclose everything. Your mother may have told you that you don’t always need to tell everybody everything you know, but in this case Mom is wrong. It is critical to answer every question to the fullest extent, telling the truth completely, no matter how ugly that truth is. Failure to disclose or making a false statement of what the court determines to be a material fact mandates that the court shall deny the petition. The same holds true if the petitioner fails to meet the burden of proof, and obviously failure to disclose things could directly impact whether the burden was met.
It is common sense that it would be in your best interest to cooperate during the process, including being flexible with any requests that the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel may make during the process. However, it also wouldn’t be mentioned here if it wasn’t a common occurrence. It is amazing to see petitioners being argumentative with the Bar’s lawyers, including being overly litigious and generally hostile towards the Bar. As with any litigation, there are various ways it can progress. It can be hotly contested or it can be orderly processed. In the situation where a former attorney is trying to become reinstated, it seems to be in the best interest of the petitioner to act with a spirit of cooperation, rather than act with hostility. While the Bar lawyer is obligated to review petitions for reinstatement, it is considerably easier to be reinstated when the Bar lawyers are focused on making sure the statutory requirements are met, rather than furiously litigating unnecessarily. While it would be rare for the Bar to join in recommending a petitioner be readmitted, a neutral position is certainly more beneficial than an antagonistic stance.
If you have followed the guidelines addressed in this article, you are well on your way to being prepared for the hearing. While the term hearing was used, it is in effect a trial about your present good moral character and fitness to practice law. You have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the best interests of the public and the profession, as well as the ends of justice, would be served by reinstatement. It is important that you have testimony or affidavits from members of the Bar indicating that they are aware of your past situation, and notwithstanding that situation, they believe that you presently possess the good moral character and fitness to practice law. It can be extremely helpful to have the testimony of former clients and potential future clients that they believe it is in the best interest of the public that you be licensed, and that they would use you if licensed. Obviously the best situation would be where a former complaining client could either in writing or with testimony support your petition for reinstatement.
Let me close Jeff's Legal Guide on How to Get Reinstated to the Texas Bar by emphasizing that the right attitude, right preparation and right counsel for your case will make so much difference in your chance for success. Would you save some money if you went pro se? Probably, but the chances of messing up become so much greater when you try to do it yourself. We have charged as low as $5,000.00 for a reinstatement and more than $30,000.0 in another. There is no charge to sitting down and discussing what you will face to get reinstated, and how best to go about it. Hope you will at least choose someone who has done it before.