Attorney to Attorney

Disciplinary Defense

We represent attorneys who have been charged with ethical violations either by a bar association or by a specific court. We regularly represent attorneys facing discipline before the State Bar of California, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Our experience with disciplinary matters dates back to 1993. These agencies have the power to revoke an attorney’s right to practice law.

Immigration attorneys are uniquely prone to receiving ethics complaints due to the Board of Immigration Appeals’ authority requiring that a complaint be made in connection with any motion to reopen based on ineffective assistance of counsel (Matter of Lozada, 19 I&N Dec. 637 (BIA 1988)). Because of our long experience and in-depth knowledge of immigration law as well as disciplinary defense we are uniquely qualified to respond to State Bar and EOIR inquiries and investigations emanating from Lozada claims.

Berke Law Offices, Inc. has a long track record of resolving ethics inquiries, investigations, and actions favorably by providing the investigating authorities with detailed factual and legal analysis of the circumstances resulting in the complaint and by recommending and assisting in the implementation of remedial measures.

If faced with an ethics or disciplinary complaint or investigation, it is exceedingly important to consult with a disciplinary defense attorney immediately. The initial response to an inquiry or investigation can be critical to preserving your privilege to practice law.

Ethics Guidance

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” is especially true in the context of attorney ethics. It is very inexpensive to have a consultation with an experienced ethics attorney as compared to the cost of defending a complaint filed with a disciplinary authority.

Berke Law Offices, Inc. is qualified to advise on all matters of legal ethics and can recommend systems and processes to prevent ethical problems from arising.

Immigration attorneys are subject not only to the Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by their state bar, but also to additional rules contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. Those rules subject attorneys to discipline for, among other things:

  • Charging a grossly excessive fee;
  • Engaging in bribery or coercion;
  • Knowingly or with reckless disregard makes a false statement or willfully misleading, misinforming, threatening, or deceiving any person;
  • Soliciting professional employment – a practitioner is prohibited from distributing solicitation material in or around the premises of any building in which an Immigration Court is located;
  • Being or having been subject to a final order of disbarment or suspension, or having resigned with an admission of misconduct, by any State or Federal court;
  • Knowingly or with reckless disregard making a false or misleading communication about qualifications or services (e.g., practitioners must be recognized as certified specialists in immigration law in order to refer to themselves as such);
  • Engaging in contumelious or obnoxious conduct;
  • Having been convicted in any State or Federal court of a serious crime;
  • Falsely certifying a copy of a document as being true and complete;
  • Engaging in frivolous behavior;
  • Engaging in conduct that constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel; and
  • Repeatedly failing to appear for scheduled hearings in a timely manner without good cause.

Expert Testimony/Advisories

Due to his unique combination of criminal and immigration experience, lengthy practice history, and reputation, Robert G. Berke has previously qualified to give expert testimony in court about the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and is available to provide such testimony to members of both the criminal and immigration bars. Such testimony is useful in motions to vacate convictions.

For criminal practitioners who represent aliens, the Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that they are obligated to provide their clients with detailed and accurate information about the potential immigration consequences of charged conduct. The best way for a criminal practitioner to protect himself is to secure, or have his client secure, the services of an experienced immigration attorney who can provide that detailed and accurate information. We frequently consult with criminal defense attorneys regarding immigration safe plea deals and will, upon request, put our advice and information in writing. Having the advice in writing protects the criminal defense attorney from later claims from their client that they failed to properly advise them of the immigration consequences of a negotiated disposition.