The first step in reporting a bad or unethical lawyer is reporting them to the California Bar. Make sure you quote the California Code of Conduct for all lawyers in your complaint. Also send your complaint certified mail.
What should I expect from my lawyer?
Your lawyer should:
- Act ethically and abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct and the California Business & Professions Code. (To see the Rules of Professional Conduct, visit the State Bar website at www.calbar.ca.gov.)
- Represent you zealously and use all lawful and ethical means to present or defend your case.
- Not reveal anything you tell him or her in confidence. There are some exceptions to this rule in, for example, certain life-threatening situations.
- Allow you to make the final decisions regarding how your case will be handled.
- Exercise independent professional judgment on your behalf.
- Keep you updated on your case.
What can I do if I believe that my lawyer acted unethically?
You can register a complaint with the State Bar. All lawyers who practice law in California must live up to ethical standards. The State Bar of California’s Office of the Chief Trial Counsel handles complaints against lawyers. If you believe that your lawyer acted unethically, you can download a complaint form from the State Bar’s website at www.calbar.ca.gov. You may also call the State Bar’s intake hotline at 800-843-9053 (in California) or 213-765-1200 (outside California) to discuss the complaint-filing process. The intake hotline staff:
• Can refer you to fee arbitration, lawyer referral services or another agency better suited to handle your particular situation. Your problem with your lawyer may not involve an ethical issue.
• Can explain how the discipline process works and send you a complaint form.
• Cannot give you legal advice. Nor can anyone on the hotline staff take your complaint by telephone or predict the future outcome of your case. Complaints against attorneys must be submitted in writing. A State Bar lawyer then reviews each complaint and determines whether or not it should be investigated further for possible prosecution. (See page 13) Keep in mind that the State Bar cannot discipline attorneys for being rude or for making a mistake. Also, the mere fact that you lost your case does not mean that the lawyer did something unethical. Nor does the fact that you disagree with the lawyer’s handling of the case necessarily mean that the lawyer did something unethical. Complaints are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
How do I file a complaint against an attorney?
- Call the State Bar’s intake hotline at 800-843-9053 and request a complaint form. The hotline operator will take your name and address and send you the form with instructions for filling it out.
- Go to the State Bar’s website at www.calbar.ca.gov and download the form. Fill it out and mail it to: The State Bar of California, Office of the Chief Trial Counsel, Intake Unit, 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515. There is no fee for filing a complaint and you do not have to be a U.S. citizen. In filing your complaint, you should provide copies of any documents that will help support your claim. Your allegations alone are not evidence. Supporting documents may include, for example, copies of retainer agreements, letters, canceled checks or pleadings. Keep the original documents for your records.
Start by finding your lawyer and his license number HERE
Enter the lawyers last name in the search window, their info will appear as below:
Include the info about to ensure the bar has the correct lawyer for discipline
Reporting a lawyer is difficult when applying regular laws and codes. Its important to include any and all “Rules of Professional Conduct”
when reporting any lawyer. The bar can not deny or ignore its own laws and rules. These rules may be cited and referred to as “Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California.”
NOTE: Operative January 1, 2012, Business & Professions Code section 6010, in part, provides that the State Bar is governed by a board known as the board of trustees of the State Bar and that any provision of law referring to the “board of governors” shall be deemed to refer to the “board of trustees.” In accordance with this law, references to the “board of governors” included in the current Rules of Professional Conduct are deemed to refer to the “board of trustees.”