From 1990 to 2011, a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer practiced law without an active bar membership, according to a letter issued last month by District of Columbia attorney disciplinary officials.
Laura Heiser received an informal admonition—the least severe form of disciplinary action—for failing to maintain an active law license and giving false information to the Justice Department about her status with the D.C. Bar.
Heiser was a lawyer with the Justice Department from September 1986 through January 2013, according to the department. The letter from the Office of Bar Counsel indicated she worked in the Antitrust Division. Her membership with the Ohio bar lapsed in 1989, according to the letter, and she became an inactive member of the D.C. Bar in 1990.
Contact information for Heiser could not be located. The informal admonition letter did not list a lawyer for her.
According to the letter, Heiser said her failure to pay bar dues was unintentional. She told bar counsel that because she rarely appeared in court, the Justice Department notified courts about her license issues in "only a few cases."
A spokesperson for the Justice Department said no cases in which Heiser appeared were affected.
Attorneys who are in the process of being hired by the Justice Department must certify that they're an active member of a bar in at least one state, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico. Bar membership is verified during a newly hired attorney's background investigation, DOJ said.
A newly hired lawyer is required to certify each year continued active membership of each bar. Beginning in 2012, lawyers were also required to submit documentary proof of an active bar membership.
The informal admonition letter said Heiser no longer practices law. Heiser had no history of disciplinary issues, according to the D.C. and Ohio bars.
In approving the least serious form of discipline, Bar Counsel Wallace "Gene" Shipp Jr. wrote in the letter that his office took into consideration "that you took this matter seriously, cooperated with our investigation, and have accepted responsibility for your misconduct."