The disciplinary record of all practicing attorneys is public record. The state bar or law board in your state keeps complaints against attorneys private until the board decides to formally discipline the attorney. At that point, the board's decision and the disciplinary action become public record. You can access these records by contacting the clerk of your state's Supreme Court or the state bar association by phone or online. FindLaw says that attorneys can face discipline for many reasons -- from stealing client funds to criminal convictions at the most serious level to simply failing to pay his state bar dues. Do not hire an attorney until you check his record and background.
Research by phone
Call the clerk of your state's Supreme Court. The clerk keeps the disciplinary records of the lawyers in the state. In some state's the state bar association maintains records. Check the FindLaw resource list for contact information in your state.
Give the clerk the lawyer's name. Ask the clerk if the lawyer's license to practice is still valid.
Ask if there are any formal pending disciplinary charges against the lawyer. Finally, ask if the lawyer has any disciplinary record. Any discipline the state board has taken will be public record and the clerk must disclose it to you.
Many state bar groups provide online access to attorney records. Go to FindLaw's list of state association websites for attorney discipline.
Select the state where the attorney practices. Go to the state bar site. Type in the attorney's name. You may need the street address of his office and city.
Many states provide basic information about the attorney and details if he has faced an ethics complaint and the outcome, which may include discipline. In severe cases, an attorney can lose his license to practice law in the state.
Based in Richmond, Va., Dawn Gibbs writes about topics such as history, fashion, literature, crafts, alternative medicine and healthy living. Her work has appeared on GreenDaily.com and several style websites. Gibbs holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Virginia Commonwealth University.