All attorneys are tasked with representing their clients' interests in court. In order to provide effective counsel, an attorney needs to be able to act in an ethical manner.
If you have had the misfortune of working with an unethical attorney, you may be wondering how you can take action to prevent the attorney from taking advantage of other clients in the future.
The best way to take action against an unethical attorney is to file a formal complaint.
Filing a Complaint
The Bar Association in each state has a disciplinary committee that is responsible for reviewing all complaints filed against practicing attorneys.
You can appeal to this committee for help by filling out a special state-issued disciplinary complaint form and mailing it to the Bar Association for review.
You should be prepared to supply documentation supporting your claims that an attorney acted in an unethical manner. The disciplinary committee will need your full cooperation in order to accurately assess an attorney's actions.
The Investigative Process
Once a formal attorney disciplinary complaint form has been received by the disciplinary committee, the complaint form will be reviewed by multiple individuals. The purpose of these reviews is to determine if an attorney's actions could be deemed unethical.
Should the general consensus of the reviewers be that the complaint is valid, the offending attorney will be given a copy of the complaint form and all supporting documentation.
The attorney will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint by providing a written statement or testifying at a disciplinary committee hearing.
A thorough investigation ensures that both the complainant and the attorney named in the complaint form have the opportunity to plead their case and produce evidence related to potentially unethical activities.
The outcome of the formal complaint process against an unethical attorney can vary.
If the disciplinary committee can't uncover enough evidence to substantiate the claim made on the complaint form, the case will be dismissed.
An attorney found guilty of engaging in minor unethical activities may be placed on probation or fined. Serious instances of unethical behavior typically result in the offending attorney being disbarred.
You could have the opportunity to pursue financial compensation for damages caused by your attorney's unethical behavior by filing a legal malpractice lawsuit. The results of the Bar Association disciplinary committee's investigation can be presented as evidence if you choose to pursue a lawsuit against your attorney.Share