California attorneys have an obligation to report certain events and actions to the State Bar. Failure to provide notice about these mandatory reportable actions can result in additional sanctions.
Familiarize yourself with actions that you must report to the California State Bar and guidelines to do so correctly.
Settlements and lawsuits
You must provide the bar mandatory notice of the following:
- Any arbitration award or settlement paid for gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation or fraud
- Any legal judgment for gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation or fraud
- Three or more lawsuits filed against you for wrongful conduct or malpractice within 12 months
- Any reversal of judgment because of misrepresentation, gross incompetence or misconduct
- Sanctions of more than $1,000
Criminal proceedings and disciplinary actions
The bar requires mandatory notice for:
- A felony charge, indictment or conviction
- A misdemeanor conviction involving moral turpitude or dishonesty
- A misdemeanor conviction in which a client suffered a loss or in the process of practicing law
- Disciplinary action from the licensing board in any state, a professional agency or a foreign bar association.
Except in these instances, you do not have to report an arrest to the State Bar. An arrest alone is not sufficient grounds for disciplinary action or disbarment in California. However, the court will notify the State Bar if you receive a conviction for any criminal offense.
The state requires reporting these actions by a firm at which you are a shareholder or partner (unless the firm has already made a report). This requirement stands even if the lawsuit, criminal charge or settlement does not name you directly. You must also report sanctions that affect you and a colleague jointly.
Attorneys in any of these circumstances must make a report to the California State Bar within 30 days of learning about the event in question. You can do so online in the My State Bar Profile section of the official website, where you will find Mandatory Reporting Forms.