Rule 9.119 Conduct of Disbarred, Suspended, or Inactive Attorneys

(A) Notification to Clients. An attorney who has resigned under Rule 3 of the Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan, or been disbarred, or suspended, or who is transferred to inactive status pursuant to MCR 9.121, or who is suspended for nondisciplinary reasons pursuant to Rule 4 of the Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan, shall, within 7 days of the effective date of the order of discipline, resignation, the transfer to inactive status or the nondisciplinary suspension, notify all his or her active clients, in writing, by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, of the following:

(1) the nature and duration of the discipline imposed, the transfer to inactive status, or the nondisciplinary suspension, or the resignation;

(2) the effective date of such discipline, transfer to inactive status, or nondisciplinary suspension, or resignation;

(3) the attorney’s inability to act as an attorney after the effective date of such discipline, transfer to inactive status, nondisciplinary suspension, or resignation;

(4) the location and identity of the custodian of the clients’ files and records, which will be made available to them or to substitute counsel;

(5) that the clients may wish to seek legal advice and counsel elsewhere; provided that, if the disbarred, suspended, inactive, or resigned attorney was a member of a law firm, the firm may continue to represent each client with the client’s express written consent;

(6) the address to which all correspondence to the attorney may be addressed.

(B) Conduct in Litigated Matters. In addition to the requirements of subsection (A) of this rule, the affected attorney must, by the effective date of the order of disbarment, suspension, transfer to inactive status, or resignation, in every matter in which the attorney is representing a client in litigation, file with the tribunal and all parties a notice of the attorney’s disqualification from the practice of law. The affected attorney shall either file a motion to withdraw from the representation, or, with the client’s knowledge and consent, a substitution of counsel.

(C) Filing of Proof of Compliance. Within 14 days after the effective date of the order of disbarment, suspension, or transfer to inactive status, pursuant to MCR 9.121, or resignation the disbarred, suspended, inactive, or resigned attorney shall file with the administrator and the board an affidavit showing full compliance with this rule. The affidavit must include as an appendix copies of the disclosure notices and mailing receipts required under subrules (A) and (B) of this rule. The affidavit must set forth any claim by the affected attorney that he or she does not have active clients at the time of the effective date of the change in status. A disbarred, suspended, inactive, or resigned attorney shall keep and maintain records of the various steps taken under this rule so that, in any subsequent proceeding instituted by or against him or her, proof of compliance with this rule and with the disbarment or suspension order will be available.

(D) Conduct After Entry of Order Prior to Effective Date. A disbarred or suspended attorney, after entry of the order of disbarment or suspension and prior to its effective date, shall not accept any new retainer or engagement as attorney for another in any new case or legal matter of any nature, unless specifically authorized by the board chairperson upon a showing of good cause and a finding that it is not contrary to the interests of the public and profession. However, during the period between the entry of the order and its effective date, the suspended or disbarred attorney may complete, on behalf of any existing client, all matters that were pending on the entry date.

(E) Conduct After Effective Date of Order. An attorney who is disbarred, suspended, transferred to inactive status pursuant to MCR 9.121, or who resigns is, during the period of disbarment, suspension, or inactivity, or from and after the date of resignation, forbidden from:

(1) practicing law in any form;

(2) having contact either in person, by telephone, or by electronic means, with clients or potential clients of a lawyer or law firm either as a paralegal, law clerk, legal assistant, or lawyer;

(3) appearing as an attorney before any court, judge, justice, board, commission, or other public authority; and

(4) holding himself or herself out as an attorney by any means.

(F) Compensation of Disbarred, Suspended, Resigned, or Inactive Attorney. An attorney who has been disbarred or suspended, has resigned, or who is transferred to inactive status pursuant to MCR 9.121 may not share in any legal fees for legal services performed by another attorney during the period of disqualification from the practice of law. A disbarred, suspended, resigned, or inactive attorney may be compensated on a quantum meruit basis for legal services rendered and expenses paid by him or her prior to the effective date of the disbarment, suspension, resignation, or transfer to inactive status.

(G) Receivership.

(1) Attorney with a firm. If an attorney who is a member of a firm is disbarred, suspended, is transferred to inactive status pursuant to MCR 9.121, or resigns his or her license to practice law, the firm may continue to represent each client with the client’s express written consent. Copies of the signed consents shall be maintained with the client file.

(2) Attorney practicing alone. If an attorney is transferred to inactive status, resigns, or is disbarred or suspended and fails to give notice under the rule, or disappears, is imprisoned, or dies, and there is no partner, executor or other responsible person capable of conducting the attorney’s affairs, the administrator may ask the chief judge in the judicial circuit in which the attorney maintained his or her practice to appoint a person to act as a receiver with necessary powers, including:

(a) to obtain and inventory the attorney’s files;

(b) to take any action necessary to protect the interests of the attorney and the attorney’s clients;

(c) to change the address at which the attorney’s mail is delivered and to open the mail; or

(d) to secure (garner) the lawyer’s bank accounts.

The person appointed is analogous to a receiver operating under the direction of the circuit court.

(3)   Confidentiality. The person appointed may not disclose to any third parties any information protected by MRPC 1.6 without the client’s written consent.

(4)   Publication of Notice. Upon receipt of notification from the receiver, the state bar shall publish in the Michigan Bar Journal notice of the receivership, including the name and address of the subject attorney, and the name, address, and telephone number of the receiver.