In spite of regular conviction, it is the Supreme Court of Missouri and not The Missouri Bar which is accountable for the state’s legal advisor discipline framework. So as to ensure that public rights are being safeguarded, the Supreme Court directs a component for examination and, where required, also oversees the discipline and order of attorneys who neglect to meet their expert commitments. So how can one file a complaint against a lawyer?
Any individual who accepts that a legal advisor has been involved in unethical conduct, the person may file a complaint with the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel in Jefferson City. If in any case you accept the fact that an attorney may have abused the Rules of Professional Conduct, you can compose a letter to the suitable courts’ panel or round out and present a form that is easily accessible from their websites.
Let us continue reading the article to find out more.
How To File A Complaint Against A Lawyer
Even though most of the lawyers are very professional and provide high quality services, it does not mean that a lawyer may never act incompetently when representing you or breach a policy or a professional guideline. However, you cannot just place blame on your lawyer, it is important that you have a good reason to believe that an attorney violated professional guidelines and committed misconduct. If so you have a legitimate reason to file a complaint with Barreau.
It is always a better option to reach out to your lawyer first and ask for an explanation instead of immediately filing a complaint. If in case you are not satisfied with the explanation provided, or if your attorney is not picking up calls, you can file a complaint with Barreau. You can get in touch with the Barreau du Québec if you have any doubts.
You can file a complaint against a lawyer in the following two ways:
Via The Office Of The Syndic
1) A written correspondence needs to be provided to the office of the syndic if you want to file your complaint. Make sure that the letter contains the following information:
- The reason as to why you are filing a complaint.
- The name and full mailing address of the attorney or attorneys in question. The full mailing address includes the civic number, street, city, and postal code.
- The date on which the particular misconduct took place.
- Your own personal address along with your work, home and cell phone numbers.
- Your fax number and email address (if you have one).
Moreover, it is also important for you to attach all of the relevant documents along with the letter of complaint.
2) After you have written the letter and collected the documents, the next step is to send your complaint to the office of the syndic. You can do this via mail, fax or email. The fax number, mailing address and email address can easily be found on their website or on the internet.
3) Lastly, you will have to wait for the decision of the office of the syndic. Whether or not the office is going to proceed with filing a complaint will be told to you in writing within a certain amount of time. The amount of time the office of the syndic can take to inform you if your complaint has been filed, depends upon the complexity of the file and the number of ongoing investigations. In case your complaint is rejected and is not filed, the office will give you written reasons for its decision.
By Filing A Private Complaint
Moreover, if you do not want to go through with the whole process of filing a complaint to the office of the syndic, you can even directly file your complaint against an attorney by going to the Disciplinary Council. This requires a different set of instructions to be followed. It will be up to the party who has filed a complaint to provide evidence that the attorney you worked committed the said misconduct. Hence, it is going to be your duty to ensure that you are in a strong position to prove what you are stating. Keeping this in mind, the Disciplinary Council will render a decision. In order to directly file a complaint you must address your complaint, in a written form, to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Council of the Barreau du Québec.
The complaint that you file needs to have the following two elements:
- A sworn declaration that backs your reasons as to why you filed the complaint
- The date, place and preferably the time at which the said misconduct by the attorney took place.
- The details and reasons explaining how the misconduct took place.
Reasons To File A Complaint Against An Attorney
There are many reasons that compel an individual to file a complaint against a lawyer. In cases where you believe that your lawyer is not being sincere, it is a good idea if you first get in touch with your lawyer personally. In case that does not go well, then you can proceed with filing a complaint. Given below are some of the reasons for which a party can file a complaint against an attorney:
- When your lawyer neglects your case in any form such as not communicating properly, failing to do tasks that were already agreed upon, delaying matters pertaining to your case and so forth.
- When you lawyer violates your trust by doing things such as embezzlement of funds entrusted to them by or for a client.
- When there a conflict of interest between you and your lawyer
- When your lawyer mislead you by providing false information or ambiguous advertising
- When your lawyer does not acknowledge your efforts to get into contact with them, or does not respond to your phone calls and emails.
- When you get to know that a settlement cheque was sent to your lawyer, but you were never informed of it.
- When your lawyer concludes your case without your consent or even without mentioning it to you.
What Happens When You File A Bar Complaint?
Filing a Complaint
Each state has a bar affiliation that manages legal counselors and their lead. Any complaints ought to be routed to your state’s bar association. A complaint form along with a guideline on how to fill it is mentioned on their website.
All complaints that are filed are first analyzed and assessed by lawyers working for the State bar. You do not have to worry about there being any conflicts of interest here. If the State bar concludes that the alleged misconduct for which the complaint has been filed is not an ethical violation, the case will be dismissed and you will be informed via mail.
If in any case the State bar confirms that there might be proof of a moral infringement, it will generally be the one to inform your attorney and permit him to react to the claims. The attorney may submit records and evidence to legitimize his activities.
As soon as the State bar gets the attorney’s reaction, the complaint will be assessed once more. If not much evidence is present that can justify further examination, the case will be shut, and you will be informed via mail.
In the event that the State bar chooses not to close the case, it will initiate a proper examination. During this examination, you might be reached to give additional proof. You might be needed to affirm at a proper hearing before the Disciplinary Board. This cycle can last for about six to eighteen months.
If the State bar concludes that your lawyer violated an ethics rule, your lawyer may face:
- Probation — If the lawyer has committed a minor infringement, they may be under check for some time. Moreover, their practice can also be temporarily restricted.
- Private reprimand — The State bar will send a reprimand in a written format to the attorney. This will go in the attorney’s permanent file.
- Public reprimand — Such form of reprimand is likely to be published in your local newspaper or your State bar’s magazine.
- Suspension — If the lawyer has committed a more serious infringement, then he/she can be suspended from practicing law. The length of suspension can differ from one state to another.
- Disbarment — For the most heinous infringement, your legal counselor might be disbarred. This implies he is deprived of his permit to provide legal counsel. The amount of time for which they cannot practice before appealing for restoration changes from state to state.
If you believe your attorney committed an ethical breach, an experienced legal malpractice lawyer can be of great assistance.
Can You Get Your Money Back From A Lawyer?
Usually when a lawyer commits a fraud on a client, the individual feels as if everything is out of his/her hands. After all, hiring an attorney is no joke. A good one can cost a fortune. However, there is nothing to instantly worry about because you can get your money back from a lawyer.
Have you ever heard of the client protection fund? If you have not, it’s time to get yourself accustomed to it because that is the way how you can get your money back from rogue lawyers. There can be times when bas intentions are not the driving force behind these lawyers running away with your money, however, things like mental health problems, drug or substance abuse and even death can result in the disappearance of your attorney.
The client protection fund requires some time in order to make the payments. This can even take up to a few years. During this period, the CPF conducts examinations to discover whether the denounced lawyer is actually guilty or not. The initial step that a client has to take is to submit documentation to the Client Protection Fund body. At that point, the lawyer will be allowed a chance to react to the charges made against him/her.
One needs to keep in mind that the CPF has its own processes and procedures. They are going to make sure that a few things are done prior to issuing money in the form of a refund. The first thing that needs to be done is ensuring that the lawyer’s license has been suspended. This aspect is absolutely necessary before any money is refunded. Secondly the attorney can even be disbarred. If either one of these two things is done, the client protection fund can go ahead and release funds.
However, some lawyers choose to deliberately embezzle with your funds. In this case, follow the given procedure:
- Get in touch with the State Bar of Arizona through phone call, mail or email and explain your case to them. Ask if you are eligible to apply to the Client Protection Funds.
- The website of the State Bar of Arizona has an application form that you need to fill. They are present in English and in Spanish.
- Make sure you cooperate with the fund investigator, the staff and the board where required.
- Be patient and wait for the fund board to vote on your claim.
Who Receives Money From The Client Protection Fund?
- Individuals who hired the attorney
- Individuals who had the lawyer as a guardian.
- Small businesses who hired the lawyer or
- Small businesses who had the lawyer as a guardian.
Who Is Not Qualified To Acquire The Money?
- The lawyer’s family members, e.g. current or former spouse, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent or sibling.
- The lawyer’s employees, partners, associates, or co-shareholders.
- Corporations, bonding agencies, medical providers, or other businesses under the authority of the lawyer
- Any other third party with claims against the lawyer.
Requirements Of The Lawyer
- The attorney should have a license or be authorized to practice law.
- The attorney should have a disciplinary suspension for longer than six months, interim suspension, disbarment or a felony conviction associated with the claim.
- The attorney can also be transferred to a disability inactive status.
- The attorney can also have been dead.
- The attorney should have committed a fraud that resulted in the client’s financial loss.
When Should The Claim Be Filed?
- The complaint should be submitted within five years beginning from the time you found out about the lawyer’s dishonest conduct.
How Long Does The Process Last?
- It can take about a year or even longer.
How Much Money Does A Client Receive?
- An individual can receive $100,000.
- The total claims against one lawyer is restricted to $250,000.
Actions Of An Attorney That Can Cause Clients To File A Claim To CPF
- Theft or embezzlement of money.
- Taking or converting money, property or other valuable things.
- Refusing to refund fees even when little to no work was performed by the attorney.
- Deliberate dishonest or deceitful conduct resulting in the loss of money or property.
Claims That Are Not Eligible?
- The ones revolving around a lawyer’s negligence, incompetence, or malpractice.
- Complaints concerning fees even after a significant amount of work by the lawyer.
- Money given to a lawyer for an investment, loan or any other purpose that did not stem from a lawyer-client relationship.
- Requests for compensation of interest or legal fees paid to other lawyers, damages, or other costs.
What If The Claim Is Denied?
- You will be informed in writing via mail or email.
- A reconsideration can be requested.
- If you are denied the second time, it would be final.
Attorney Misconduct Complaint Sample
Various samples for attorney misconduct forms are available on the internet. You can easily find a PDF and get that printed out, fill it and submit it to the state bar. The basic elements that need to be mentioned in the form are:
- Your full name and address
- The attorney’s full name and address
- Your contact information (phone number, mailing address, email address)
- Attorney’s contact information as you remember it (phone number, mailing address, email address)
- Statement of complaint
- The date and time when the lawyer conducted the misconduct
- The date when the complaint is filed
- Your signature
Filing a complaint against an attorney and asking for a refund is quite possible. All you need to have is proof that you paid the lawyer to perform and deliver results, but the attorney failed to do so as per the agreement. On the other hand, if you do not pay your attorney for the work that they actually did, you will be at the risk being sued or having your name ruined. This is why it is important to ensure that you think everything over and do everything legally without any loopholes, before making any move because there are chances that the consequences can bite you later.