In my state, you can’t get that information. All the Bar will do is confirm whether or not a lawyer is in “good standing”–which means that he is licensed, and not suspended at the moment. Bar disciplinary matters are confidential, except where a lawyer has actually been disbarred.
It should be noted that the mere fact that there have been a lot of complaints against a lawyer doesn’t mean, in the absence of actual findings by a discipline committee, that the lawyer is a bozo. Some areas of law, like family law, virtually guarantee that a practitioner will be complained against by really upset people, even though he’s done nothing wrong.
The litigants on the other side once filed a complaint against my wife, on the grounds that she was “biased against them”. :rolleyes: The Law Society didn’t spend a lot of time investigating that one, IIRC.
You may want to try the website of the state at issue. I believe each state’s website can be reached at www.state.XX.us, with the two letter postal abbreviation of the state replacing the XX (i.e. NY, CA, PA, etc.).
From the main page, you can try to find the courts portion of the website, and they should have some links to attorney discipline.
For what it’s worth, in Illinois the website is http://www.iardc.org
Two of my former bosses are listed as having been suspended at one time or another, both of them after I worked for them. Can’t say as that surprises me very much.
I represented a lawyer who was sued by a law clerk. During litigation, the law clerk applied to our firm for a job, with the application threatening to report us to the the Law Society* if she were not hired. Needless to say, we did not hire her, and she reported me to the Law Society. She also reported me for only communicating with her in writing rather than accepting her phone calls, and for a long list of other nonsensical complaints.
Another fellow reported me to the Law Society for refusing to represent him for free. Ironically, I later ended up being the Inspector in his bankruptcy.
My all time favourite, though, is a fellow who has reported so many lawyers and judges to so many agencies that took an 11" x 17" spreadsheet in small type for me to lay it all out. Report to the Law Society? That was just a start. He reported me for hate crimes to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights because I had been hired to chase him by another lawyer whom he had stiffed. I’ve had to deal with this fellow in the Superior Court, the Divisional Court, and the Court of Appeal. Since I have consistently won against him and have a stack of costs awards against him, he now wants me to pay his legal bill, or else, as you might guess, he will report me again.
That sort of nonsense is just par for the course in personal litigation. Emotional imbalance, financial strain, and good old fashioned hate, make for a heady brew that leads to truly stupid complaints.
Could be worse, though. Our office door has been shot out and our parking lot has been spiked by persons unknown.
I think it is important to recognize the difference between a lawyer who has been sanctioned by the Law Society, and a lawyer who has been reported to the Law Society. The former is very telling – quite frankly, I would not hire a lawyer who had been sanctioned by the Law Society. The latter – being reported – is utterly meaningless. That is why the Law Society publishes the names of lawyers whom it sanctions, along with a summary of the infractions and penalties, but does not release any information concerning whether complaints have been made against a lawyer unless a sanction has been made.
(*Law Society = Law Society of Upper Canada = the Upper Lip Society = the bar in Ontario.)