How to Report a Lawyer for Malpractice

By H. Michele Thomas J.D./MLIS

Lawyers are held to high standards of professional conduct. Black's Law Dictionary defines malpractice as "negligence or incompetence" by a professional. If you believe you've lost a case or been treated unfairly by your lawyer, you may decide to report the conduct to your state's disciplinary agency. You have every right to report a lawyer who you believe acted unprofessionally or unethically. Before deciding to make a report, you may find it useful to review your state's rules of professional responsibility governing the conduct or attorneys. By completing the process of reporting a lawyer for malpractice, you will help maintain high standards for lawyers and, perhaps, get justice for yourself.

How To Report a Lawyer for Malpractice

Organize and review your legal documents. This will help you answer questions from the person receiving your report in a logical and coherent manner.

Make an outline of your report. Prepare a document outlining specific actions or instances of things your lawyer said that you believe demonstrate malpractice. Although an unpleasant demeanor may make an attorney difficult to tolerate, this alone does not qualify as malpractice. Generally, malpractice is an action by the lawyer that actually causes you to lose a case. For example, if you lose a case because your lawyer failed to submit paperwork to the court by the deadline or even failed to show up for court, this may be deemed malpractice.

Go to http://www.abanet.org.

Select "Complaints Against a Lawyer" under the Public Resources tab.

Locate the contact information for your state in the Directory of Lawyer Disciplinary Agencies 2009. This document is updated once per year.

Contact the agency governing lawyers in your state to make your report. Note that some states have separate agencies for different counties. The agency may take your report by telephone or request that you provide the report in writing.

About the Author

Michele Thomas has served as a writer, proofreader, and researcher in various fields. She currently works as a law librarian. Thomas holds a Master of Arts from The Ohio State University, a J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She also worked as a nurse for six years.

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