In New York suspended and disbarred attorneys have the right to make a motion for reinstatement after their suspension is complete, or after seven years in the case of disbarment. The first step is the submission of a motion to the appropriate Appellate Division with a properly prepared application for reinstatement. The burden of proof is on the movant to demonstrate to the court that they complied with the order of suspension or disbarment, that they currently possess the requisite character and fitness to resume practice, and that it is in the best interest of the public that they be reinstated.
The court generally either denies the motion or holds it in abeyance pending an investigation and recommendation by their character and fitness committee to admit or deny. The motion will include a comprehensive application for reinstatement, which will have great influence on the court’s decision to deny the motion or refer the matter to the character committee. Failure to present a persuasive motion, application, and supporting documents, can greatly reduce an applicant’s chance of making it to the character and fitness evaluation stage. Moreover, the contents of the motion and application will be scrutinized by the character fitness committee in their evaluation. An incomplete application will result in further investigation by the committee that will result in significant delay within the process.
A well drafted comprehensive application that anticipates the questions likely to be considered by the character committee in their evaluation will help to avoid delay and will present the applicant in the best possible light. For this, you need an attorney with intimate knowledge of how the character and fitness committees operate and what they consider when evaluating an applicant.