Legal Opinions & Ethics

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Domestic & International Court Initiatives - ‎National Center for State Courts

Keith Fisher

Executive Editor, Legal Opinions & Ethics
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Ethics and Professional Responsibility

What is Reciprocal Discipline?

by Keith R. Fisher

Many of us have experienced (to our chagrin) getting “points” (really demerits) on our driver’s licenses or suffering the potential for license suspension because of a traffic violation that occurred in another state.  Reciprocal discipline in legal ethics is conceptually similar:  It is the practice of subjecting a lawyer licensed in Jurisdiction B to discipline for misconduct that occurred, and resulted in disciplinary action involving the same lawyer, in Jurisdiction A.  In other words, misconduct that led to discipline in one state can lead to discipline in another state without any further or separate allegation of misconduct in that second state. 

The principal rationale for reciprocal discipline is protecting the public from injury that might occur if a lawyer disbarred or suspended in Jurisdiction A is permitted to continue to practice in Jurisdiction B.  Other rationales include maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice and upholding the integrity of the legal profession.  

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