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.
- Before selecting a lawyer in any situation, you should investigate his or her license disciplinary history. You can do this either by contacting the disciplinary agency or by visiting the website of your state's highest court for a public attorney information searching feature. Typically, you can search by name, attorney registration number, city, county and state. These sites provide discipline and sanction history, date of bar admission and whether the license is active.
- Be polite and organized when you make the phone call. Although the agency will take you seriously no matter what, it doesn't hurt to be courteous. Also, please be patient when waiting for a response following your complaint. These agencies are busy, specific procedures must be followed and investigations take time.
- Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition; 2009