Fort Lauderdale attorney disbarred for allegedly practicing while ineligible

By Karen Kidd | Oct 1, 2018

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) – Fort Lauderdale attorney Joseph Bernstein has been voluntarily and permanently disbarred following a Sept. 27 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he practiced law while ineligible, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Bernstein continued to practice law after a previous disciplinary revocation," the state bar said in its Sept. 28 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.

The high court granted Bernstein's most recent petition for disciplinary revocation, this time without leave to seek readmission, and its order was effective immediately, according to the state bar's announcement.

In Florida, disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.

Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Bernstein's disbarment.

Bernstein was admitted to the bar in Florida on May 31, 1977, according to his profile at the state bar website.

In June 2016, the state Supreme Court granted Bernstein's uncontested petition for a disciplinary revocation and disbarred him with leave to seek readmission after five years. In its June 2016 order, the high court ordered that Bernstein would accept no new business from the date of the order until he was readmitted.

Disciplinary matters pending against Bernstein at the time included allegations of commingling of client trust funds and misappropriating at least $164,000, much of which had been used to pay off a mortgage, according to the petition. Approximately $23,000 of the allegedly misappropriated funds had been used to satisfy a Fort Lauderdale city lien and real estate taxes.

The high court also ordered Bernstein to pay approximately $6,555 in costs.

Bernstein had been suspended on an emergency basis the previous March, which meant is initial disbarment was effective immediately, according to the 2016 petition and the court's order.

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