Clients, members of the general public and judges who believe that a lawyer in Texas has engaged in professional misconduct may file a grievance with the State Bar of Texas, which will look into the matter and can reprimand the attorney, place the lawyer on probation, or in extreme situations, even disbar the lawyer (which prevents her from practicing law).
What Are Reasons to File a Complaint Against an Attorney?
Just because a client is dissatisfied with the outcome of a lawsuit is not a valid reason to file a complaint against an attorney. The State Bar of Texas cannot modify a court’s decision in a case. It may be appropriate, however, to file a Texas state bar complaint if that lawyer has kept settlement money due a client after a lawsuit has been resolved, or if the lawyer is not answering phone calls or has missed court deadlines.
Read More: How to Write a Complaint Letter About an Attorney
How to File a Grievance Against a Lawyer in Texas
To report a lawyer for misconduct, a person can fill out and submit a State Bar of Texas grievance form, which kicks off the disciplinary process. Submit the form online or by regular mail. Generally, a person has four years from the time the lawyer allegedly engaged in misconduct to submit a grievance to the State Bar of Texas.
For a lawyer to be professionally disciplined, though, he must have violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Once someone submits a grievance form, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, a standing committee of the State Bar of Texas, will look into the matter. If it seems that an ethical rule was violated, the State Bar will provide the lawyer with an opportunity for a hearing before an evidentiary panel of the grievance committee or before a district court.
Lawyers found to have engaged in professional misconduct are subject to private or public reprimand, suspension from practice or disbarment.
How to Resolve More Minor Complaints
Problems with a lawyer in Texas that do not rise to the level of an ethical violation might be handled via the Client Attorney Assistance Program, or CAAP, which is also administered by the State Bar of Texas. For help via this program, call the Grievance Information Helpline at (800) 932-1900 or submit a request for assistance via email, fax or mail.
Clients and others may file a grievance with the State Bar of Texas if a Texas lawyer has engaged in unethical behavior.
- State Bar of Texas: File a Grievance
- State Bar of Texas: Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
- State Bar of Texas: Attorney Complaint Information
- State Bar of Texas: Commission for Lawyer Discipline Annual Report June 1, 2016 – May 31, 2017
- State Bar of Texas: Know the Steps: How to get assistance from CAAP
- State Bar of Texas: CDC Grievance Web Portal
- Record anything, such as unreturned phone calls or a refusal to copy your file for you, you think may constitute misconduct by your attorney. These records can be submitted with your grievance form as evidence.
Lori Tripoli is a freelance writer and editor focusing on law and the legal business. Lori’s work has been published in dozens of publications, both legal and general interest. A former Kaplan University department chair overseeing the Master of Science in Legal Studies, she earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and is the author of Contemporary Law Office Management (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer). Follow her on Twitter @LegallyLori.