As an attorney, you should want to do the best job for your clients as much as possible. Yet, attorneys can fail their clients, sometimes enough that a client reports their attorney for a state bar violation. That violation can be anything from relaying confidential information your client gave you to helping your client commit a crime.
So, what happens if a client reports you for a state bar violation?
Investigating the complaint
First, attorneys must follow California’s rules for professional conduct and the state’s business and professions code. If an attorney had misconduct problems when handling a client’s case, the client may report that to the California State Bar, and it will investigate the matter.
If California’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel believes your misconduct warrants charges, prosecutors will present the case to a judge. The judge will decide to either dismiss the charges or take disciplinary action against you.
Some complaints may not warrant a full investigation. You may be able to resolve the matter when consulting with representatives of the California State Bar.
When misconduct is reported to the police
If your misconduct rises to the level of criminal conduct, the California State Bar will report the matter to police. Law enforcement will conduct their own investigation and you may face criminal charges.
What to do when facing a complaint
If you find out a client has made a complaint about your conduct to the state bar, you should consult with an attorney who can help protect your license to practice law. You want to work with an attorney who understands how the state bar completes misconduct investigations and what you can do to settle the matter as quickly as possible.