The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org

Attorney Discipline – Information for the Public and Attorneys

As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 95,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. The Florida Bar accepts complaints against attorneys, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys who engage in unethical conduct.

For individuals who are unsure if a lawyer has acted ethically or who are dissatisfied and wish to consider whether filing a complaint may be appropriate, The Florida Bar operates the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP). ACAP staff, including attorneys, handle complaints and may be able to resolve problems before a complaint is filed. The ACAP telephone number is toll-free:
1-866-352-0707


On This Page



FOR THE PUBLIC

The 10 Most Important Things to Know about Lawyer Regulation by The Florida Bar
    When lawyers take the oath of admission, they obligate themselves to uphold the law and to abide by The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as established by the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Bar regulates more than 95,000 lawyers and opens approximately 7,500 files a year to investigate possible misconduct. Review the 10 Most Important Things to Know about Lawyer Regulation.
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    Judical Conduct

    Judicial Qualifications Commission External Link
    Judicial Qualifications Commission Cases Pending In The Florida Supreme Court External Link
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    These FAQs About Lawyer Discipline cover clients' rights when retaining a lawyer, handling problems with your attorney, lawyer referral, problems with other attorneys and complaints against elected officials.
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    Florida Bar News Articles on the Discipline System

    Diversion to Disbarment, the Florida lawyer discipline system The Florida Bar News, December 1, 2013

    The Bar’s procedure for investigating and prosecuting disciplinary complaints The Florida Bar News, February 1, 2014

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    How to File a Complaint Against a Lawyer

    The Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) handles client complaints and can resolve some problems via mediation before a complaint is filed. To speak with an ACAP representative, call the ACAP Hotline at 1-866-352-0707.

    ACAP provides more than 24,000 requests for assistance a year. The Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) webpage has a detailed consumer pamphlet, frequently asked questions and the complaint form.
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    Complaint Alternatives

    The discipline system also assists consumers in dealing with common attorney-client issues that do not necessarily rise to the level of grounds for filing a complaint.

      If you are having difficulty communicating with your attorney, you should consider the following before filing a complaint with The Bar:

      1. Call the attorney's office and leave a message for a return call.

      2. If you do not receive a return call within a reasonable period of time, write a letter to the attorney, preferably with return receipt requested, requesting to be contacted within a specified (reasonable) period of time. If the attorney fails to respond, your letter can be used as evidence for future Florida Bar purposes.


      If you are having difficulty obtaining files from your attorney.
      The Rules of Professional Conduct require an attorney to return to a client all papers and property to which the client is entitled unless the attorney is asserting a lien for fees. The complete original file belongs to the lawyer and the attorney must provide a copy of the file to the client and may charge reasonable copy costs.

      If your problem is not resolved, please call The Florida Bar's Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) at 1-866-352-0707 to discuss your options.
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    Lawyer Discipline Statistics and Sanction Descriptions

    The Florida Bar opens approximately 7,500 disciplinary files and the Supreme Court issues up to 400 orders for disciplining sanctions.

    Lawyer Discipline Statistics

    Description of Sanctions
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    Disciplinary Action News Releases and Access to Public Record Discipline Documents

    The Florida Bar publishes a summary of disciplinary actions monthly. News releases are sent to statewide media, published in The Florida Bar News and posted for public viewing at The Florida Bar’s website, www.floridabar.org

    Since Aug. 1, 2007, key discipline case files that are public record have been posted to attorneys’ individual Florida Bar profiles at floridabar.org. To view discipline documents, follow these steps.
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    The Complaint Process: Slide Presentation

    A 10-slide review of how the complaint process and grievance system work. Powerpoint document opens in new window Staff in ACAP will review the process with you.
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    FOR ATTORNEYS

    Ethics Hotline

    For lawyers, The Florida Bar operates an ethics hotline to offer guidance when a lawyer is unsure of the ethical obligations in a particular situation: 1-800-235-8619.
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    Regulating Professionalism
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    Lawyer Regulation

    The Lawyer Regulation web page includes: The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar with the Bylaws of The Florida Bar organization, the Rules of Discipline, the Rules of Professional Conduct, and other chapters on specific regulatory topics; standards for lawyer sanctions followed by Bar counsel, referees and the Supreme Court of Florida in recommending or imposing discipline; disciplinary statistics, ACAP and branch office listings; notices and a handbook on lawyer advertising and solicitation; and information on the unlicensed practice of law.
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    Video of a Public Reprimand

    The public reprimand is a Supreme Court ordered form of public discipline which declares the conduct of the lawyer improper. Public reprimands are delivered before the 52-member Florida Bar Board of Governors and are public record. A video of an actual public reprimand (2 min. 7 sec. , 14.7MB) has been posted for information.
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    FREE CLE: The Florida Bar Discipline System

    Bar members and Florida Registered Paralegals are encouraged to complete free online continuing education courses on the discipline system. Each includes an overview of the discipline system.

    Rule 4-8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct

    Trust Accounting

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    [Revised: 07-17-2014]