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Researching Attorney Discipline

Before you hire an attorney for representation or legal services, you should check to see if the state bar has disciplined them. States license attorneys to practice law. Attorneys may get their license to appeal cases before the federal circuit. If the bar has suspended or disbarred the attorney from the practice of law, they are not allowed to act as an attorney.

The disciplinary organization investigates a claim if clients or other attorneys file malpractice complaints against an attorney. If the attorney has violated any ethical rules, the bar will discipline them as necessary.

Attorneys must follow their state bar's rules of professional conduct. Unethical conduct can include:

  • Fee disputes and unconscionable legal fees
  • Misrepresentation or miscommunication
  • Aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of law
  • Violating the rules of professional conduct

Penalties range from fines and suspension to disbarment. You cannot hire attorneys who are not eligible to practice law in your state. Disbarred attorneys can't give legal advice. Doing so may violate court rules in their jurisdiction.

Finding the right lawyer takes time. You should always research an attorney's disciplinary history. Your research should include previous discipline taken and the circumstances surrounding the discipline. Not all states will disclose an attorney's disciplinary history, particularly if it was "private" or did not involve a hearing. In most states, you must write to the bar association and request a copy of the attorney's disciplinary record.

The following state links will help you learn an attorney's past and current status. If you have any concerns, follow up with your state bar association.

Alabama Center for Professional Responsibility, Alabama State Bar
Alaska Attorney Grievances, Alaska Bar Association
Arizona Lawyer Discipline Process, State Bar of Arizona
Arkansas Office of the Committee on Professional Conduct, Arkansas Judiciary
California Attorney Discipline System, State Bar of California
Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee
Colorado Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation
Delaware Delaware Office of Disciplinary Counsel
District of Columbia District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel
Florida Florida Bar Lawyer Directory
Georgia Georgia's Attorney Discipline
Hawaii Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Hawaii
Idaho Idaho's Attorney Discipline
Illinois Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission
Indiana Disciplinary Commission, Indiana Supreme Court
Iowa Attorney Disciplinary Board, Iowa Supreme Court
Kansas Office of the Disciplinary Administrator, Supreme Court of Kansas
Kentucky Office of Bar Counsel, Kentucky Bar Association
Louisiana Louisiana Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
Maine Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar
Maryland Maryland Court Attorney Search
Massachusetts Massachusetts Office of the Bar Counsel
Michigan Michigan Attorney Discipline Board
Minnesota Minnesota Lawyer Regulation
Mississippi The Disciplinary Process, Mississippi State Bar
Missouri Missouri Courts Ethics and Discipline
Montana Montana Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Nebraska Nebraska Counsel for Discipline, Attorney Sanctions
Nevada Nevada Office of Bar Counsel
New Hampshire Attorney Discipline System, New Hampshire Supreme Court
New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics, Supreme Court of New Jersey
New Mexico The Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court
New York New York Attorney Grievance Committees
North Carolina North Carolina Lawyer Discipline
North Dakota Disciplinary Board, Supreme Court of North Dakota
Oklahoma Oklahoma Bar Association Attorney Complaints
Ohio Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Ohio Supreme Court
Oregon Disciplinary Counsel's Office, Oregon State Bar
Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Rhode Island Disciplinary Board, Supreme Court of Rhode Island
South Carolina South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel
South Dakota Lawyer Discipline. To confirm if an attorney is in good standing, call the State Bar Disciplinary Board at 605-224-7554.
Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, Supreme Court of Tennessee
Texas Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, State Bar of Texas
Utah Consumer Assistance Program, Utah State Bar. Utah does not post private disciplinary actions or disabilities against attorneys or LLPs. Contact the Utah State Bar directly at 801-531-9077.
Vermont Professional Responsibility Board, Supreme Court of Vermont
Virginia Virginia State Bar Professional Regulation System
Washington Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Washington State Bar
West Virginia West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board
Wisconsin Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation
Wyoming Ethical Violations Complaints, Wyoming State Bar

If You Have an Attorney Complaint

You can find complaint forms on the disciplinary boards' websites if you need to make a formal complaint against an attorney. You must provide all information about your legal matter, including the grounds for your complaint. The disciplinary investigator may contact you for more information.

If you want legal help when making a complaint against your attorney, a legal malpractice attorney in your area can help.

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