It is, perhaps, every lawyer's biggest fear -- getting disbarred from the state lawyer's bar association. Law students have to take a professional responsibility course that outlines what constitutes ethical behavior and the sanctions levied if they are not followed. This knowledge is also tested on the bar exam. Future lawyers must also give the state bar association permission to conduct a thorough background check. New York residents who have been found guilty of committing crimes involving dishonesty, such as fraud and deceit, may not be allowed to sit for the bar exam.

If a lawyer has engaged in questionable conduct, either clients or fellow lawyers can file complaints. Bar associations take these complaints very seriously and could take disciplinary action against them. This action could include fines, counseling and temporary disbarment. If the suspension is more than six months long, the lawyer in question may have to retake the professional responsibility portion of the bar exam again and return to practice upon passing it.

Disbarment is often the last resort the bar association takes, and usually when a felony conviction is involved. For example, an attorney's inability to practice due to a substance or alcohol abuse, might lead to disbarment.

The state bar association investigates the alleged conduct, unless the crime is serious enough that a preliminary investigation is not needed. But, a disbarred attorney in one state does not automatically mean an attorney cannot practice in another state.

As disbarment or even temporary suspension affects a lawyer's ability to earn a living and sustain themselves, it makes sense that they would want to tell their side of the story in the professional disciplinary proceedings for lawyers.

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