Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 43771
Attorney Name Forman, Steven Clark
DBP Docket No. 70 DB 2001
Supreme Court Docket No. 799 D.D. No. 3
County Philadelphia
Disciplinary Counsel Barbara S. Rosenberg
Counsel for Respondent Samuel C. Stretton
Decision Date 2003-01-31
Effective Date 2003-03-02
Case Digest For twelve years, from 1988 to 2000, Respondent actively and regularly practiced law in Pennsylvania when he was not eligible to do so because he had been transferred to inactive status for failure to file his annual attorney registration form and to pay the annual fee. He also neglected to comply with CLE course requirements for five years, from 1995 to 2000. Respondent was admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Between 1985 and 1987, Respondent began practice with a firm in Philadelphia. In 1987 Respondent remained with the Philadelphia firm but moved his own office to New Jersey. Respondent failed to notify the Disciplinary Board or the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts of any changes in his address after 1987. By order dated December 29, 1988, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court transferred him to inactive status for failure to file his annual registration statement and to pay the annual fee. When Pennsylvania instituted Continuing Legal Education Requirements in 1993, Respondent complied for three years, completed half of the requirements in 1996, and thereafter failed to attend any programs. Respondent claimed that he was unaware that he had been placed on inactive status until 2000, at which time he ceased practicing in Pennsylvania. Respondent explained that no notices came to his new office and he assumed that the principal partner of his Philadelphia firm would take care of whatever needed to be done. In a footnote, the Board noted that in 1997, Respondentís Philadelphia firm ceased operation due to the death of the principal partner. Respondentís excuse was unavailing because Respondent did not notify authorities of his new address. Respondent also claimed that he was unaware that compliance was mandatory. The Board found this excuse ďlegally ineffective and, quite frankly, incredible.Ē The Board found that Respondentís unauthorized practice was not defiant. Respondent had no prior disciplinary record and presented strong character evidence as to his reputation and ability to represent his clients.
Rule Violation(s) 217(c), 217(d), 219(a), 219(d), 219(d)(2) and 219(d)(3); 5.5(b)
Discipline Imposed One Year & One Day Suspension
Points of Law It is not unreasonable to expect an attorney to be continuously aware of the status of his privilege to practice law. A lawyer who fails to comply with registration requirements and is subsequently placed on inactive status, but who did not notify any authorities that he had moved his office, is responsible for notices that were sent to, whether or not they were received by, that lawyer.
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