A Word About Confidentiality and Immunity
The rules of the Supreme Court of Florida require the Bar (staff, investigators, and grievance committee members) to treat inquiries and complaints pending with Bar counsel and grievance committees as confidential matters. You, the lawyer who is subject of the inquiry or complaint, witnesses and other third parties are not required to treat those inquiries and complaints as confidential matters. However, disclosure of the existence of an inquiry or complaint and the contents thereof outside of the disciplinary system may provide a basis for legal action. If however, you limit your inquiry and communication about it to Bar staff, investigators and grievance committee members; you should not be successfully sued. While, generally, you cannot be successfully sued if you do not act in bad faith or with malice, we emphasize successfully. The Bar cannot guarantee that the lawyer will not attempt to bring legal action against you.
There are things you can do to minimize the chance that you will be sued. You should not threaten the lawyer with a disciplinary inquiry or complaint, civil action, or criminal prosecution.
If you believe any such action should be undertaken you should seek advice of another lawyer, before you write a demand letter.
While you have the right to talk to anyone you want about your Bar inquiry/complaint, you should consider not talking to anyone other than Bar staff, investigators, and grievance committee members, or your new lawyer, until the case is closed or until the matter is decided by a grievance committee and further proceedings are undertaken. At that point, the matter becomes public information and a part of the file defined as the public record that is available to anyone who wishes to see it.
We understand that if you make an inquiry / complaint about a lawyer’s conduct you feel strongly about the situation in question. Our responsibility is to undertake an appropriate investigation and develop pertinent facts and evidence. By treating all persons involved in the process in a calm, objective and professional fashion, you assist us in resolving the matter more quickly.
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The material in this pamphlet represents general legal advice. Since the law is continually changing, some provisions in this pamphlet may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.
This pamphlet is produced as a public service for consumers by The Florida Bar.
[Updated July 2017]