Volume 36

Imposing Lawyer Sanctions in a Post-January 6th World

by Alex B. Long

As was the case with the Watergate scandal fifty years ago, the number of lawyers involved in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results has raised questions about the state of ethics within the legal profession. So far, the profession’s response to the crisis has been to rely on the professional disciplinary system to address the alleged misconduct of the lawyers involved. This decision raises a question as to whether the collection of state professional disciplinary systems are up to the task. The conduct of Jeffrey Clark, the DOJ lawyer who sought to convince state officials to convene special legislative sessions to investigate supposed widespread voter fraud, raises particular concerns related to the disciplinary process as applied to government lawyers. The events sur- rounding the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the Capitol provide the legal profession with an opportunity to take a fresh look at the Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions and address existing shortcomings. This Article identifies some of those shortcomings and uses the case of Jeffrey Clark to high- light some of the Standards’ particular pitfalls as they apply to government lawyers’ misconduct.


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