TeeJaw Blog

Twenty-Five Lawyers Kicked Out of Wyoming State Bar

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Monday, February 28, 2011, 10: 46 AM

Reminds me of that joke, “What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” Punchline: “A good start.”

Well, that’s just mean. I take it back. I shouldn’t be so obnoxious about my fellow members of the bar. But this does raise a point about the legal profession. It is, after all, the second oldest profession. We all know what the oldest is. So why were these lawyers kicked out? Simply because they didn’t pay their bar dues. But that alone didn’t get them kicked out. They let it go for three years without doing anything about it. They don’t just show you the door the minute you fail to pay up. You have to remain a deadbeat for three years without even telling anybody why you haven’t paid. If one no longer wants to pay the annual fee one can avoid the ignominy of getting sacked but simply resigning from state bar membership. It’s a bad commentary on the legal profession that it ever contained people with so little sense of responsibility. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

Most of these excommunicated lawyers are not residents of Wyoming, I’m happy to say. Since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it is unconstitutional to require residency as a pre-requisite for a license to practice law in a state, non-residents have been admitted in droves to practice in Wyoming and many other states. I agree with that, but I guess it has led to a fair number of non-residents applying for admission to the State Bar of Wyoming who lack a serious commitment to the State. Not serious enough to pay the annual fee, not even serious enough to bother submitting a formal resignation when they no longer want to pay the fee. Shameful.

NOTE: The Wyoming State Bar is a mandatory bar. That is, it is the Wyoming Supreme Court’s regulation of lawyers in the state. In many states, such as Colorado, the bar association is separate from Supreme Court registration, and as such is a voluntary bar. There’s also another possible explanation why some of these lawyers didn’t formally resign. You have to be in good standing to resign. If you’re already under investigation for ethical misconduct you can’t resign until you get back in good standing. I don’t know if that was the case with any of the affected lawyers. Also, the action taken against these lawyers is termination not disbarment. I assume it’s not the same.

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