West Palm Beach Florida Bar Defense Lawyer
The legal profession is highly regulated. The Florida Bar is responsible for investigating and bringing disciplinary complaints against attorneys accused of misconduct or other unethical behavior. And if you are the lawyer targeted by such a complaint, you may find yourself in the position of needing an attorney.
The West Palm Beach Florida Bar defense lawyers at the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., can represent you in formal disciplinary proceedings. We understand the sensitive nature of this process and strive to provide professional advice when dealing with the Bar or the Florida Supreme Court. No lawyer wants to be accused of disreputable conduct, and we will make every effort to ensure you have an appropriate defense.
What Happens When Someone Complains to the Bar About an Attorney?
The Florida Bar’s Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) normally begins the disciplinary process by receiving a written inquiry questioning an attorney’s conduct. Such inquiries can come from just about anyone, including a current or former client, another attorney, a judge, or even the Bar itself. Fortunately, the majority of these inquiries do not lead to any formal disciplinary action.
In those cases that do, however, the Bar will notify the accused lawyer of the allegations and provide 15 days to file a response. After receiving that response, intake counsel for the Bar may opt to close the investigation or refer the matter to the Florida Bar branch office for the judicial circuit where the accused attorney practices. The branch office then has the option of closing the case, recommending diversionary measures (such as additional ethics training), or forwarding the complaint onward to a formal grievance committee.
Each Florida judicial circuit has one or more grievance committees, which has the authority to interview witnesses and gather additional evidence before deciding if there is “probable cause” to find the accused attorney has violated legal ethics rules. This finding is then reviewed by the Florida Bar Board of Governors, which can then decide to file formal charges with the Florida Supreme Court. The Court then appoints a current or retired judge to serve as a “referee” to conduct a formal trial. The referee’s final report is then subject to final review and approval from the Board of Governors and the Supreme Court.
At any stage during this process, the accused attorney may enter into a “consent judgment” with the Florida Bar, effectively a proposed settlement to resolve the ethics complaint. This consent judgment is still subject to review by a referee and the Supreme Court. Final disciplinary action can range from a suspension of the attorney’s right to practice law to permanent disbarment. The Bar may also take further disciplinary action against an attorney who is caught practicing while under a prior suspension.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
A Florida Bar complaint can arise for a number of reasons, from accusations of a conflict of interest to allegations that an attorney is stealing money from a client. Whatever the accusation, it is important to deal with the matter in a serious and professional manner. So if you are an attorney looking for help from a qualified West Palm Beach Florida Bar defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today.