Just So You Know The Legal Profession Is Trying…

The Massachusetts bar has suspended a lawyer for six months for running an advertisement on Craigslist offering to write  papers and essays for students to turn in as their own. The state Board of Bar Overseers of the state Supreme Judicial Court issued a memorandum April 1 announcing that lawyer Damian R. Bonazzoli was suspended from practice.  He also lost his job lost his job with the state Appeals Court.


Bonazzoli was suspended from practice after an article in CommonWealth magazine revealed that he ran three advertisements on Craigslist offering to write term papers and essays for cheating students.  One read, “I’m offering the only service that guarantees you a quality grade for a paper that I write or edit for you.”

Lawyers often argue that conduct outside the practice of law should not be considered grounds for bar discipline, on the bizarre and demonstrably wrong theory that a dishonest and untrustworthy person can be an honest and trustworthy lawyer. (See: Edwards, John.) This is a good example of conduct that argues otherwise—a lawyer (though not revealing that he was a lawyer) setting out to assist students in misrepresentation and scholastic dishonesty for money clearly has a busted ethics alarm, and it isn’t going to start ringing just because he’s representing a client.

Would the Bar have suspended Bonazzoli if he hadn’t also (I suspect without knowing) violated a 1972 law that makes writing term papers for cheats a crime? Perhaps not, since violating a law involving honesty automatically constitutes misconduct; but I hope so. At least the decision shows that one Bar (my Bar, I’m proud to say) isn’t buying the ethically- schizophrenic rationalization that came into special vogue when Bill Clinton’s defenders maintained that personal conduct was irrelevant to professional integrity, and “never the twain shall meet.”  If you are willing to help cheaters cheat, you can’t have much of an aversion to cheating. I’d say that meets Rule 8.3’s standards that punishable misconduct is that which “raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.”

Why only six months? Presumably the court believes that the lawyer is not beyond redemption, and is properly contrite. Losing his job along with a six month suspension is pretty stiff. The message has been sent and received.

2 thoughts on “Just So You Know The Legal Profession Is Trying…

  1. Well, it’s true that if anyone loses his prime source of livelihood for half a year, he’s got problems! Added to that is a loss of professional reputation that might well make later clients or lucrative cases hard to come by. However, I can’t help but wonder just how lucrative his practice was beforehand if he solicited such a service as got him censured in the first place. It was not only unethical, either. It was stupid! Who wants a stupid and unethical lawyer… outside of Chicago or Hollywood, that is? Maybe this gentleman will use his “time out” to consider a change of profession. Teaching, maybe?!

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