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For immediate release: December 15, 2004
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Ineligible Lawyers Facing Deadline in New Jersey: Some Lawyers May Lose License

Lawyers who have not paid their annual assessment by Dec. 30, 2004 will have to pay a higher fee to be removed from the state's Ineligible Attorneys List, and attorneys who have not paid their assessments for seven years or more by September 2005 will lose their licenses permanently, today announced Ken Bossong, director of the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection.

On Jan. 1, 2005 the fee for reinstatement from one year's List increases from $25 to $50, and the fee for reinstatement from two or more years' Lists increases from $50 to $100. Lawyers who neither pay the assessment nor receive an exemption from payment are declared ineligible to practice law by Order of the Supreme Court. The Order is effective upon publication. This year's Ineligible List was published on Sept. 27, 2004 and contains 14,281 names.

Noting that a large number of the attorneys on the List have been ineligible for many years, the Supreme Court amended the Rules of Court to provide that, upon publication of the Ineligible List for 2005, all lawyers whose names have been on the List for seven or more consecutive years will have their New Jersey license to practice law administratively revoked. Under the amendment to Rule 1:28-2(c), revocation means that the lawyers' membership in the Bar ceases. An application to regain membership in the New Jersey Bar will require meeting all conditions for initial admission, including passing the Bar examination. Currently 6,780 lawyers have been ineligible for six or more consecutive years and are in danger of revocation next year.

Attorneys licensed in New Jersey but currently practicing elsewhere may take particular interest in the amended Court Rule. "Because the bona fide office rule now allows attorneys licensed in New Jersey to maintain their office outside of the state, many of those who have been practicing outside of New Jersey and not paying their assessment for several years might want to rethink that choice before it is too late," said Mr. Bossong.

This year's annual assessment was $190 for most attorneys. This money is distributed to three entities: the entire disciplinary mechanism for lawyers ($134), the Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection ($50), and the Lawyers Assistance Program ($6).

Ineligible lawyers looking to avoid the increased reinstatement fee should ensure that payment in full is mailed in time to be received no later than Dec. 30, 2004. Payment should be made by check or money order in U.S. dollars, and sent to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, PO Box 961, Trenton, N.J., 08625-0961. Lawyers may inquire about the amount they owe by calling 609-292-8079.

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