Given the highly emotional nature of the situations that a lawyer’s clients find themselves in, it’s not unusual for a client to turn their pain and suffering into resentment towards their counsel. Most attorneys will have to respond to a Bar complaint at some time in their career.
Responding to false complaints
Unfortunately, a state bar investigation can be initiated for almost any reason and can be filed by clients and individuals who weren’t clients. Some complaints can even be filed anonymously, which puts lawyers at risk of uneeded disciplinary actions. Complaints are most often filed without the attorney’s knowledge. Though each lawyer is entitled to due process, every complaint has to be taken seriously.
Responding to an investigation
Dealing with the State Bar is an important part of a person’s practice. Here are some of the steps that attorneys need to take after receiving word of a complaint:
- Attorneys need to be cooperative.
- A response has to be timely.
- It would help if you displayed a willingness to resolve an issue.
- The Bar can continue an investigation even if the person complainant refused to cooperate.
- The Bar has the power to issue subpoenas, investigate, compel witnesses and request documentation.
Protecting your ability to practice law
Record-keeping is crucial to providing evidence in a claim that may counter a complaint. All the information that can be applied to an investigation highlights the importance of documenting interactions with clients. This information can cover the services provided, their outcome and hard copies of interactions like emails and letters. The California State Bar holds the authority to allow you to continue your livelihood. It’s important to take its authority and the gravity of these complaints seriously. In a similar way to how attorneys specialize in certain fields and areas of expertise, every attorney may not have the specific knowledge to navigate an investigation. Whatever the scenario, take the steps necessary to protect your livelihood.