Legal Ethics

Lawyer who 'did not realize' he was suspended in 2010 can't resume practicing law, court says

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Sketch of man saying, Oh.

A lawyer who says he didn’t realize he was suspended in a mass proceeding in 2010 remains on interim suspension as a result of an order by a New York appeals court.

The Appellate Division, First Department, ruled March 29 in the case of M. Scott Vayer, the Legal Profession Blog reports. The Attorney Grievance Committee told the court that Vayer had continued to practice law after the 2010 suspension, and he should be suspended or disbarred for unauthorized practice.

Vayer responded that he “did not realize” he was suspended until last year, when another lawyer brought it to his attention.

Vayer had acknowledged he failed to renew his registration and stopped meeting requirements for continuing legal education around 2001, according to the court opinion. At that time, Vayer said, he was engaged in major litigation and was facing stress both in his personal and professional life. As time passed, the CLE obligations became overwhelming and he never caught up.

Vayer had said he didn’t know of his 2010 suspension because he doesn’t subscribe to the New York Law Journal and didn’t see the notice published there for five days. He had also moved his home and business in the fall of 2010, without notifying the New York Office of Court Administration. That could explain why he never received a suspension notice, he said.

He caught up with continuing legal education requirements and paid delinquent registration fees in June 2017.

The Attorney Grievance Committee sought disbarment or a continued suspension on the ground that Vayer had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law during his suspension. The appeals court opted to continue the interim suspension while the committee continues its investigation.

The committee “correctly argues that after 17 years of failing to re-register or complete the required CLE credits it is incredible that respondent thought his license to practice law would remain valid,” the appeals court said.

Vayer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The ABA Journal also placed a phone call to Vayer, but the person who answered hung up without getting a call back number.

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