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Attorney Discipline

As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Division of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for its members. The Florida Bar accepts complaints against attorneys, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys who engage in unethical conduct.

The Florida Bar operates the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) for consumers who have a problem with an attorney that they are open to resolving without filing a disciplinary complaint. ACAP personnel are available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 866-352-0707.

For public record information regarding any Florida Bar attorney, send us an email.

What ACAP Can Do

  • Where appropriate, ACAP can contact your attorney to make them aware of your concerns. Examples of situations that ACAP may be able to assist with include a lack of communication and a failure to return client papers or property.
  • Through the Bar’s Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration Program, ACAP may be able to help you resolve a fee dispute with your attorney.
  • ACAP attorneys can provide general information about Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

What ACAP Cannot Do

  • ACAP cannot provide legal advice or make decisions for you. If you need guidance from an attorney, you may wish to contact the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service, 800-342-8011.
  • ACAP is not an alternative to court proceedings. If you are involved in a legal dispute the judicial process may be your primary source for relief.  ACAP cannot intervene on your behalf.
  • ACAP cannot take Bar complaints over the phone. If you wish to file a Bar complaint, you must download the Inquiry/Complaint form, review the attached instructions, and submit accordingly. Please note that filing a Bar complaint is not a way to obtain a refund or monetary damages.
  • ACAP cannot pre-judge a potential Bar complaint over the phone.

Information 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 110,000 lawyers and opens approximately 7,500 files a year to investigate possible misconduct. Review the 10 Most Important Things to Know about Lawyer Regulation.

How to File a Complaint Against a Lawyer

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.

ACAP provides assistance in response to more than 24,000 requests a year.

Please note: If the PDF opens in your browser, download it to your computer before completing.

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:

  • Call the attorney’s office and leave a message for a return call.
  • 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.

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, who must provide a copy of the file to the client and may charge reasonable copy costs.

Another complaint alternative your local professionalism panel. Each judicial circuit provides an informal process for filing professionalism complaints against attorneys. For more information regarding how and where to file a professionalism complaint in your circuit, please visit the Local Professionalism Panel Contact Information by Circuit.

If your problem is not resolved, call ACAP to discuss your options.

Lawyer Discipline

  • Lawyer Discipline Process: From initial complaint to Supreme Court Order, learn about the process followed in a typical case to impose sanctions on a member of The Florida Bar for violating a Rule Regulating The Florida Bar.
  • Lawyer discipline FAQ: Covers clients’ rights when retaining a lawyer, handling problems with your attorney, lawyer referral, problems with other attorneys and complaints against elected officials.

Disciplinary Action, Discipline Statistics, and Public Records

Judicial Conduct

FLORIDA BAR NEWS & JOURNAL ARTICLES ON THE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM

From the Bar News

From the Bar Journal

Information for Attorneys

Ethics Hotline

The Florida Bar operates an ethics hotline for its members to offer guidance when a lawyer is unsure of the ethical obligations in a particular situation. Call 1-800-235-8619.

Regulating Professionalism

Lawyer Regulation

The Regulation of Lawyer Conduct  webpage 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.

Video of a Public Reprimand

The public reprimand is a Supreme Court-ordered form of public discipline that 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 downloadable video of an actual public reprimand (2 min. 7 sec., 14.7MB) has been posted for information.

Podcasts

Podcast: The Lawyer Discipline Process from Start to Finish

Florida Lawyer Complaints and the Disciplinary Review Committee (28:46 min.)