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When you need to self-report legal issues

As a California attorney, if you receive notification that you face legal action against your firm or you personally, you may need to notify the State Bar. This can help avoid a Notice of Disciplinary Charges or inquiry letter.

According to The State Bar of California, attorneys must self-report legal actions filed against them or their practice.

Lawsuits and settlements

Disgruntled clients may threaten a lawsuit or contest your fees if they do not get the case outcome they wanted. Reporting every unhappy client is not necessary. However, attorneys who have three or more lawsuits for malpractice or committing wrongful conduct in a professional capacity filed against them within 12 months must report them to the State Bar.

Having professional liability insurance can be beneficial when it comes to legal actions against you. If you do not have this type of insurance, you must report a settlement or arbitration award for breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation or gross professional negligence.

Criminal actions

If you face an indictment or criminal charges, you must notify the State Bar. Although you do not need to take action for a first DUI in most cases, various other issues require self-reporting. If you receive a conviction for a misdemeanor crime that involves moral turpitude, dishonesty or a crime committed in the practice of law, you must notify the State Bar or face repercussions that could affect your professional license.

In circumstances in which you and your client were both sanctioned, or if the court must notify the State Bar, you have 30 days from the time you learn of the triggering event to file a report.

Understanding how professional misconduct can affect your professional license is critical if you must defend your actions to the State Bar.

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