While there is no duty to self-report rule violations, all Wisconsin lawyers must self-report criminal convictions and public discipline from other jurisdictions.
Have an Ethical Dilemma?
Ethical dilemmas affect every lawyer’s practice. This series of questions and answers appears each month in InsideTrack. The answers, offered by the State Bar’s ethics counsel org tpierce wisbar Timothy Pierce and Assistant Ethics Counsel org akaiser wisbar Aviva Kaiser, are intended to provide guidance only and are not legal authority. Each situation will depend on the facts and circumstances involved.
Feb. 19, 2014 – This month’s Ethical Dilemmas answers the question: Is there any obligation for a lawyer to self-report to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR)?
Lawyers are sometimes required to report the misconduct by SCR 20:8.3. Under SCR 20:8.3(a), a lawyer “who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.” By its black-letter language, however, SCR 20:8.3(a) does not obligate a lawyer to self-report.
While SCR 20:8.3 does not require a lawyer to self-report, two other rules do require self-reporting in certain limited circumstances.
Under SCR 21.15(5), a lawyer who is found guilty or convicted of any crime must notify the Office of Lawyer Regulation and the clerk of the Supreme Court within five days after the finding or conviction, whichever occurs first. A lawyer’s failure to self-report a criminal conviction is misconduct and may be prosecuted by OLR as a rule violation itself.
Under SCR 22.22, a lawyer who has been publicly disciplined for misconduct or whose license has been suspended for medical incapacity by another jurisdiction must promptly notify the director of the Office of Lawyer Regulation. A lawyer’s failure to do so within 20 days of the effective date of the order of the other jurisdiction is misconduct.