I am the only practicing lawyer in Oregon to have been disbarred and reinstated to the practice of law. My reinstatement was the case that couldn't be won, but unrepresented, and facing incalcuable odd, I won that case and now practice law again.. Only two lawyers in the history of Oregon have been allowed to resume practice after disbarment. I am one of them.
I resigned from the bar under threat of disbarment, because, in the late 1980s, I stole just under a thousand dollars of client money. Taking client funds is the worst crime a lawyer can commit. At the time of the thefts I was disabled by alcoholism and on my way to years of being unemployed and unemployable. I stopped practicing law in 1989, but didn't get sober until 1992, For a decade after getting sober I made my living wearing work boots and driving a forklift. In the year, 2000 I asked to be reinstated to the Oregon State Bar. The lawyers for the Bar took the position that it would be cold day in hell before I practiced in Oregon again.
The litigation over my reinstatement took three years and ended up before the Oregon Supreme Court. The Oregon State Bar was represented by its in-house counsel and a trial attorney from a prestigious Portland firm. I represented myself. At the end of my trial, the three person disciplinary panel that heard the witnesses wrote as follows:
The Applicant has been faithful to his sobriety, and has strengthened his relationships with his family, friends and co-workers. The evidence of reformation of character is not only clear and convincing, it is substantial and impressive in the complete reversal of habits that consumed the Applicant for years.
The Oregon State Bar was undeterred by their loss at trial and took the matter before the Oregon Supreme Court. They had no better luck before the high court, and I was reinstated by a unanimous decision of that court
The full story of the reinstatment litigation is available through links in this article. A brief published version from Insight Magazine is also available. Today I often speak before groups about my crime, the restitution and what it took to practice law again.
While I was driving forklift and loading trucks I went back to school and did graduate work at Portland State University studying gerontology--the social aspects of aging. When in 2003, the Oregon Supreme Court handed me my license back, I opened an elder law practice where I still work today.
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This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority.
This means the attorney resigned in order to avoid being disbarred. "Disbarment" is the most serious penalty for a lawyer.
Orrin’s comment: “See the "About Me" section for the story of how I became the only practicing lawyer in the state of Oregon (and only the second one in the history of the State) to be allowed to return to the practice of law after disbarment. It is the tale of a case that could not be won, and a victory for faith in the power of men and women to change their lives.”
|Award name||Grantor||Date granted|
|Editor-in-Chief Willamette Law Review||Willamette Law Review||1981|
|Attorney||Orrin Onken - Elder Law Lawyer||2003 - Present|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|Oregon Gerontological Association||N/A||2009 - Present|
|Oregon Mediation Association||N/A||2009 - Present|
|Guardianship/Conservatorship Association of Oregon||N/A||2008 - Present|
|East County Alano Club||Corporate Secretary and Legal Counsel||2007 - Present|
|National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys||N/A||2005 - Present|
|Multnomah County Bar Association||N/A||2004 - Present|
|Elder Law Section of Oregon State Bar||N/A||2003 - Present|
|Estate Planning Section of Oregon State Bar||N/A||2003 - Present|
|Orrin Onken - Pamphlet Series||Guardians, Conservators, Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives: A Guide for Families and Long Term Care Providers in Oregon||2007|
|Willamette University College of Law||Law||JD - Juris Doctor||1982|
|University of Oregon||English||BA||1973|
|Portland State University||Gerontolgy||N/A||N/A|