The form the State Bar uses for reporting does not include "charges" -- only convictions -- and is in keeping with B&P Code section 6068(o)(5).
It reads: “A verdict of guilty against me or my plea of guilty or no contest to misdemeanor charge(s)committed in the course of the practice of law, or in a manner in which a client of the attorney was the victim, or a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of the misdemeanor, involves improper conduct of an attorney, including dishonesty or other moral turpitude, or an attempt or a conspiracy or solicitation of another to commit a misdemeanor of that type.”
The quoted heading " Attorneys are required to self-report felony indictments, felony or misdemeanor charges or convictions, guilty verdicts, guilty pleas and no contest pleas" conflicts with the language of the statute.
There is indeed an analytic gap and a lack of clear and consistent direction on this issue, one that is, in my view, compounded by language in B & P §6068(o) that the statute “only” provides that the State Bar may discipline attorneys for failure to self-report. So the statute does not itself define self- reportable events and defers to the State Bar to specify the events that trigger the obligation.
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice alluded to the murky state of the self-reporting obligation in its 2007 Report (Report and Recommendations on Reporting Misconduct), and called for clarification from the State Bar and significantly more MCLE ethics training of attorneys on the self-reporting obligation, a recommendation that went largely ignored.
The State Bar is aware of lack of clarity in the scope of the self-reporting obligation and, apparently, chooses to leave the issue unresolved. That fact alone, as a practical matter, usually causes administrative law practitioners and professional licensing counsel to formally advise clients to comply with the broadest definition of the obligation, in the expectation that an unnecessary self-report does not prejudice or damage the member and does not cause the administrative risks and difficulties that can be reaped by a dispute with the State Bar over an unreported event. Practically speaking, there are few matters that raise these issues and the State Bar has not in recent years aggressively pursued issues of failures to self-report.
Thanks, Christine. You answered all my unasked questions and a few I did not have. I knew you could and would. You've added, at least momentarily, to my knowledge base.