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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 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 are dissatisfied or think a lawyer may have acted unethically and want to consider filing a complaint. 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.

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

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 107,000 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.

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.

Discipline Road Map Infographic / Frequently Asked QuestionsAttorney Discipline Road Map

Disciplinary Action, Discipline Statistics, and Public Records


Judicial Conduct

Florida Bar News Articles on the Discipline System

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.)