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Attorney Discipline

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ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE

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 its more than 104,000 members. 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 103,000 lawyers and opens approximately 7,500 files a year to investigate possible misconduct. Review the 10 Most Important Things to Know about Lawyer Regulation.

Discipline Road Map Infographic / Frequently Asked Questions

Discipline Road Map: From complaint to court order

(Infographic Text Alternative)

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.


The Complaint Process: Slide Presentation

A 10-slide review of how the complaint process and grievance system work . Staff in ACAP will review the process with you.


Florida Bar News Articles on the Discipline System

How the Bar investigates disciplinary complaints The Florida Bar News, March 15, 2016

Get to know the lawyer regulation process The Florida Bar News, March 1, 2016

ACAP helps lawyers and clients sort through their differences The Florida Bar News, March 1, 2016

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

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

 


Judicial Conduct

Judicial Qualifications Commission

Judicial Qualifications Commission Cases Pending In The Florida Supreme Court


How to File a Complaint Against a Lawyer

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

ACAP provides assistance in response to more than 24,000 requests a year. The Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) web page has a detailed consumer pamphlet, frequently asked questions and the complaint form.


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

Local Professionalism Panels:

Another complaint alternative available in your community is the local professionalism panels. 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. A Sept. 1, 2014, Florida Bar News article provides additional information.

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.


Lawyer Discipline Statistics

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

Lawyer Discipline Statistics


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.

Discipline cases that are public record are posted to the attorney’s individual profile at FloridaBar.org.  Select the reference number to view the Supreme Court Order and other related documents. Detailed instructions to view discipline documents.


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.


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

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


Attorney Discipline Road Map