We get this question a lot. Do I have a duty to self report this conduct to the Bar? Unless we’re talking about the trust account, which we’ve discussed in other blogs, there is generally no self-reporting duty in the Rules of Professional Conduct. If you goof, make a bone-headed decision, briefly lose your mind, or aliens have taken over your body, and you have done something that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct, you need not report it to the State Bar. That is, it is not a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct NOT to report it. Whether you should report it, notwithstanding that there’s not duty to do so, is a topic for another day.
Trust accounts are a different animal. If you inadvertently misapply funds, over-disburse, or disburse in error, and you (1) discover the error promptly, (2) rectify it, and (3) document it in your files, then there is no duty to self report to the State Bar. The failure to promptly discover the error or rectify it within a calendar quarter from when the error was made, could trigger the new reporting requirement in Rule 1.15-2. (See earlier blog). But for errors that are discovered and correctly quickly, the State Bar has enough to do without fielding calls or reviewing correspondence about every mistake made in attorney trust accounts. If you do make a mistake in the trust account, let it be a wake up call to double down and make sure you have in place measures to help ensure that such mistakes do not happen in the future.