Information on Attorney Complaints, Texas Legal Help (2023)

What rules do lawyers have to observe?

In terms of professional discipline, the ethical rules that lawyers must observe are mentionedTexas Disciplinary Code of Professional Conduct.These rules can be found onlineHere on the site ofTexas State Bar AssociationThey are also included in the Texas Government Code (Title 2, Subtitle G - Appendix A, Title 10, Section 9).

Should I file a complaint?

Reporting unethical behavior by Texas attorneys helps reduce and prevent harm to the public and the legal profession. In order for the state bar association to investigate an attorney's conduct, a person wishing to file a complaint about an attorney must file a written complaint describing his or her conduct with the office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the state bar association.

You may find that theState Bar Association Client and Attorney Assistance ProgramStaff will determine whether it would be appropriate to report the conduct to an attorney and/or other resources. The Attorney-Client Assistance Program is a statewide dispute resolution program that helps clients and attorneys with minor issues in their relationship when the issue does not involve misconduct under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Program staff respond to the Bar Association's Complaint Information Hotline at (800) 932-1900.

Is there a statute of limitations for filing a complaint?

Yes, the statute of limitations for filing a complaint is four years, with a few exceptions. That means you typically have four years from the date of the alleged misconduct to file a complaint with the state bar association.

Do I have to be a client to file a complaint with an attorney?

Can not. Anyone who is aware of what they believe to be professional misconduct by a lawyer may file a complaint.

How do I file a complaint?

The first step in filing a complaint is to complete a complaint form through the Bar Association's online filing system at or mail or fax the completed complaint form to:

Texas State Bar Association, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Council, PO Box 13287 Austin, Texas 78711, Fax: (512) 427-4169.

This form can be found atBar-Website, or upon request, the form can be mailed to you at (866) 224-5999. Be sure to include copies of all supporting documents such as letters, briefs (court records), emails, etc. Do not send original documents as they will not be returned. Also, do not use staples, sticky notes, or staples.

When reporting the conduct of your current or former attorney, it is important that you understand that by signing the Complaints Form you are waiving attorney-client privilege or your discussions with the attorney will remain confidential. The form must be signed and dated by the complainant.

What happens after I file an appeal?

The Chief Disciplinary Board will review your complaint and determine within 30 days whether the lawyer's alleged conduct may constitute a breach of the Code of Discipline for Professional Conduct (Code of Ethics). This review is referred to as the "triage phase" of the disciplinary process.

Complaints that were found not to involve an ethical violation were classified as “investigative” and dismissed.

Complaints found to indicate a possible breach of the Code of Ethics will be classified as “Complaints” and investigated by the High Disciplinary Board. The Chief Disciplinary Board will notify you of this decision by mail. Complainants whose appeals are dismissed contact the Client Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP), a voluntary dispute resolution program of the State Bar of Texas, directly.

Can I review and resubmit my complaint?

If your appeal is dismissed as an investigation by the Chair of the Disciplinary Board, you may supplement the dismissed appeal with additional or new information and resubmit it to the Chair of the Disciplinary Board. Amended oppositions must contain new or additional information that was not included in the original opposition. You can only amend and resubmit your objection once.

Can I appeal the rejection of my appeal at this classification stage?

You may appeal the Senior Disciplinary Counsel's decision to dismiss your appeal to the Board of Discipline Appeals (BODA). Appeals must be submitted in writing using the form provided once the Chair of the Disciplinary Board has notified you that your appeal has been dismissed. Appeals must be made directly to BODA (not the Chief Disciplinary Advisor) within 30 days of receipt of the Notice of Termination. BODA will independently review your complaint to determine whether it indicates a potential violation of the Code of Ethics. If BODA allows the appeal and reverses the grading decision, the appeal will be returned to the Senior Disciplinary Counsel for investigation. After BODA has rejected an appeal, you can only amend and resubmit your appeal once by submitting new or additional information as described in the previous section.

What happens if my complaint breaks the rules?

Going forward, your complaint will be handled by the office of the District Disciplinary Council Chairperson, which has jurisdiction under rule 2.11 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Procedure. This will take place in Austin, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. You will be told where your complaint is being handled and who to contact if you have any questions. A copy of your complaint will be sent to the attorney who is the subject of the complaint, with instructions to send a written response to the complaint to the Head of the Disciplinary Board within thirty days. The Supreme Disciplinary Board will conduct an investigation into the matter within the next 60 days, reviewing all information received from the complaining party and the accused counsel, as well as any other information gathered, to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the matter has taken place . professional misconduct. This is known as a "good reason" investigation. The investigation of the complaint takes place at the district office of the Supreme Disciplinary Board responsible for the district where the alleged conduct took place.

What happens after a cause investigation is closed?

If the Chair of the Disciplinary Board concludes that there is good reason to believe that professional misconduct has occurred, the Attorney will be notified of the reported conduct and the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics. Attorneys can choose to have their case heard by a Board of Appeals or by a District Judge.

The Supreme Disciplinary Board then submits the petition to the Evidence Panel or District Court on behalf of their client's Attorney Disciplinary Board. The case is then tried before the Evidence Panel of the Complaints Committee or the District Court.

What happens if my complaint is subject to an evidentiary hearing?

The Evidence Panel is the body of the Complaints Committee, composed of attorneys and non-lawyers who hear and examine the evidence and decide whether an attorney has committed professional misconduct. Admission or disqualification of evidence is at the discretion of the Chair of the Evidence Panel. After the hearing, the Evidence Panel has 30 days to determine whether the attorney has committed professional misconduct. All parties will be notified of the Evidence Panel's decision.

Can I appeal if I disagree with the Evidence Panel's decision?

Can not. An Appellant cannot appeal against an Evidence Decision.

What happens if my complaint is filed with the district court?

Evidence in a district court hearing may include your testimony, that of your attorney and possibly other witnesses, and any documentary evidence presented in court. The trial court will render a verdict after the hearing of evidence is complete or after the jury verdict has been announced.

Can I appeal if I disagree with the outcome of the district court case?

Can not. The applicant cannot appeal the district court's decision.

What happens if no valid reason can be found?

If the High Disciplinary Board concludes that there is no good reason to believe that the lawyer has committed professional misconduct, the matter will be referred to the summary panel and it will be recommended that the complaint be dismissed. Neither you nor an attorney have the right to participate in a panel discussion. The panel will review the complaint and any information, documents and evidence it deems necessary to reach a decision. Don't testify at the hearing. If the panel determines that the dismissal is appropriate, all parties will be notified. The Summary Panel's decision to continue or dismiss the Complaint is not subject to appeal.

What is a summary elimination team and who are the members of the team?

The Summary Panel is a panel of the Complaints Committee which, on the advice of the Chief Disciplinary Advisor, decides whether to dismiss or proceed with a Complaint. The State Bar Grievance Committee is made up of volunteer attorneys and members of the public serving in 49 disciplinary districts across the state. Each committee consists of 2/3 legal members and 1/3 public members. The committee sits on boards that are also made up of two-thirds lawyers and one-third members of the public.

How do I know what will happen to a complaint I file?

You will be informed in writing of the status of your complaint throughout the complaints process.

What happens to lawyers accused of professional misconduct?

Depending on the severity of the case, one or more of the following penalties may be imposed on the attorney:

  1. condemnation, which may be public or private;
  2. suspension of activity, which may be suspended in whole or in part; either
  3. Disqualification.

Any public sanction against an attorney for professional misconduct becomes a permanent part of the attorney's record.

Does the Bar Association offer other avenues of appeal for complainants who have disputes with attorneys that cannot be resolved through the Attorney Disciplinary Rules?

Perhaps. At any stage in the complaints process where a complainant's complaint is dismissed, the matter is escalated to a voluntary dispute resolution and mediation process known as the Attorney-Client Assistance Program. In this case you will receive further information about the program.

Is there anything you can do for a client whose money has been stolen by a lawyer?

Yes. The Client Protection Fund is a State Bar Association discretionary fund that offers some relief to clients in certain circumstances. To seek redress, an application must be made to the Fund and the applicant must participate in the attorney's disciplinary process (unless the attorney has died, been disbarred from practicing law, is retiring, or is indefinitely pending completion of career of the applicant suspended). complaint of a lawyer). In certain circumstances, customers may be eligible for financial assistance from this source. The Client Protection Fund does not regulate damages for legal misconduct, disputes over the amount charged for legal services, dissatisfaction with the results achieved by an attorney, or recovery of monies paid by another attorney for work not performed by the offending attorney.

What if I believe I have a legal wrongdoing claim?

Neither the Attorney General nor the Chief Disciplinary Counsel can advise you on your possible misdemeanor claim (if any). The state bar association has no authority to assert or in any way participate in any claim you may have for legal misconduct by an attorney. If you believe you have such a right, you should seek the advice of a private attorney of your choice.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the disciplinary process?

If you have any questions before filing a complaint, please call Information hotline for complaintsToll-free 800-932-1900. If you have questions after making a complaint, callSenior Disciplinary AdvisorOffice at 866-224-5999.


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