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Old 03-24-2017, 09:01 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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How does legal professional discipline work in the US?

Just curious - is it the courts that are responsible for disciplining lawyers, or bar associations?
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:57 AM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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Discipline normally comes from the state bar association. Any member of the public can report a problem to the state bar; Texas, in fact, requires that lawyers post this sign (PDF) in their offices to inform the public of their right to file a complaint of misconduct.

Judges, on the other hand, are disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In TX, at least.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:00 AM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Courts, of course, have to power to sanction lawyers for conduct in a pending case. The State Bar Association (in States I'm aware of) handles general lawyer discipline. However, they act as an arm of the State Supreme Court. So, the Courts have ultimate responsibility for decisions like suspensions and disbarments.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:02 AM
Falchion Falchion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Just curious - is it the courts that are responsible for disciplining lawyers, or bar associations?
It's done by the state bar (which is often different from what people think of as "bar associations"). The state bar may or may not be an agency of the state supreme court.
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:33 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falchion View Post
It's done by the state bar (which is often different from what people think of as "bar associations"). The state bar may or may not be an agency of the state supreme court.
Well, to be more accurate:

In some states, the supreme court of the state takes care of all attorney licensing issues (see, for example, Ohio). In such a state, there will likely be some board appointed with the power of investigating discipline issues. Here, for example, is a flowchart of how it works in Ohio.

In some states, the supreme court is in charge of the bar, but delegates most issues to some subordinate organization which might be called a state bar.

In some states, the supreme court, or the legislature, has delegated most all issues regarding the admission and discipline to a "mandatory" bar association (see California). Indeed, California is the only state, I believe, that has specialized judges who rule on discipline issues. The Supreme Court only rules on disbarment, and then only after recommendation from the State Bar Court. See here for info.
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Old 03-25-2017, 06:55 AM
Billdo Billdo is offline
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In New York, the attorney discipline system is supervised by the intermediate appellate court, the Appellate Division, which is split into four geographic "Departments." Each Department has a disciplinary committee made up of practicing lawyers with a professional staff.

A complaint will go to the disciplinary committee covering the Department where the lawyer has his or her office. The committee staff will investigate, and the committee will recommend that the attorney be disciplined or that the complaint be dismissed. Where discipline is recommended, the recommendation goes before the Appellate Division court for the Department, which reviews the recommendation and imposes discipline, sometimes accepting and sometimes changing the recommendation. I believe that the disciplined attorney has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, but that is not too common.

Last edited by Billdo; 03-25-2017 at 06:58 AM. Reason: clarify
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Old 03-25-2017, 09:17 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. It sounds like there is considerable variation from state to state - is that right? Is there a general text or survey article on this issue?
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Old 03-25-2017, 10:27 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Also, if a lawyer commits fraud or embezzelment he can be tried like anyone else and go to jail.
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Old 03-25-2017, 06:52 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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That goes without saying. No-one is immune from the criminal law. I'm wondering about complaints of professional misconduct that do not amount to breaches of the criminal law, but open the lawyer up to discipline, up to disbarment.
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Old 03-25-2017, 09:16 PM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Torque View Post
Discipline normally comes from the state bar association. Any member of the public can report a problem to the state bar; Texas, in fact, requires that lawyers post this sign (PDF) in their offices to inform the public of their right to file a complaint of misconduct.

Judges, on the other hand, are disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In TX, at least.
FWIIW and no hijack intended, dentists in TX have to post a similar sign.
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Old 03-26-2017, 03:13 PM
dstarfire dstarfire is offline
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Google Prenda to see how lawyers can be disciplined for a variety of deeds. They're a law firm that went crazy in their disregard for professional standards and ethics.
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