If you have proof that an attorney violated his or her ethical obligations, consider filing a formal complaint.
Allowing a genuinely unethical attorney to practice harms everyone, including the Justice system itself. Be aware that in general, your proof must be conclusive. State Disciplinary Counsel are reluctant to discipline attorneys, even with clear and convincing proof against them. When sanctions are imposed, they may be of inconsequential proportions.
After several complaints, though, the likelihood is much greater that more serious sanctions will be imposed. One additional suggestion is the use of affidavits; we have heard of positive results obtained by sending the complaints as sworn affidavits of the attorney's conduct and activities. You can also send any witness commentary as sworn affidavits along with the complaint to bolster the credibility of the complaint.
Do not file a complaint against an attorney unless you truly believe (and can prove) he or she acted in a blatantly unethical manner. Do not file a complaint to "get back" at an attorney. Do not file frivolous complaints regarding relatively minor misbehavior or about non-substantive issues- the court will NOT be sympathetic to these kinds of complaints. Filing a groundless or "annoyance" complaint will usually be to your detriment, as the court often deals harshly with the person who files such complaints.
Either request the proper form from the appropriate Disciplinary Office listed below, or modify this form letter to fit your particular circumstances. Use the list below the form letter to locate the correct contact for reporting ethics issues. Fill this contact in for the [name of governing body] lines. Normally after filing a complaint, you will receive a detailed form from your State's Office of Disciplinary Counsel to fill out regarding your complaint.
COMPLAINT REGARDING ATTORNEY[name of attorney]
TO: [fill in appropriate governing body] [fill in appropriate address] City, State, ZIP
RE: Ethics Violations By [name of attorney]
I hereby lodge an official complaint against [name of attorney] who is licensed in the State of [name of State], and is therefore subject to the [name of State] Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Nature of the complaint:
[name of attorney] engaged in unethical behavior as detailed below:
[Detail the nature of the complaint. Be succinct and factual, do not enagage in any sarcasm or remarks of a personal nature. Offer to provide documentation or other proof upon request. You should also cite or paste in a copy of the specific guidelines that have been violated, or you can include it below.]
Date of Violation:___________________ Date Violation Discovered if different from above:________________
Other Relevant Information:
[Detail any other relevant information or event(s) here. This is a good place to cite or paste in a copy of the specific guidelines that have been violated, or you can include it above. Delete this section if your complaint is fully explained in the section above.]
I am sure the [name of governing body] will find this issue worthy of investigation, and I look forward to hearing from you as to the disposition of this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information or have any questions.
[Your Name] [Address] [Phone number]
Alabama J. Anthony McLain Alabama State Bar Phone: (334) 265-4793 Center for Professional Responsibility 415 Dexter Avenue P.O. Box 671 Montgomery, AL 36104 Filing Method: Visit website for form or submit detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Site: www.alabar.org Alaska Stephen J. Van Goor Alaska Bar Association 510 L Street, Suite 602 P.O. Box 100279 Anchorage, AK 99510-0279 Phone:(907) 272-7469 Fax:(907) 272-2392 Filing Method: Call for form or submit detailed letter Anonymity: No Arkansas James A. Neal Supreme Court of Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct Justice Building 625 Marshall Little Rock, AR 72201 Phone: (501) 376-0313 Fax: (501) 374-1853 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Arizona Margaret H. Downie State Bar of Arizona 111 West Monroe, Suite 1800 Phoenix, AZ 85003-1742 Phone: (602) 252-4804 Fax: (602) 271-4930 Filing Method: Call for form or submit detailed letter Anonymity: No California Judy Johnson State Bar of California Office of the Chief Trial Counsel 1149 S. Hill Street Los Angeles, CA 90015 Phone: (213) 765-1000 Fax: (213) 765-1029 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter to State Bar or call 800-843-9053 in California Anonymity: Not guaranteed Francis P. Bassios San Francisco Office 555 Franklin Street San Francisco, CA 94102 Phone: (415) 561-8200 Fax: (415) 561-8214 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter to State Bar or call 800-843-9053 in California Anonymity: Not guaranteed Colorado Linda D. Donnelly Colorado Supreme Court Office of the Disciplinary Counsel Dominion Plaza Building 600 17th Street, Suite 510 South Denver, CO 80202-5435 Phone: (303) 893-8121 Fax: (303) 893-5302 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter or call 877-888-1370 Anonymity: No Connecticut Daniel B. Horwitch Statewide Grievance Committee Second Floor, Suite Two 287 Main Street East Hartford, CT 06118-1885 Phone: (860) 568-5157 Fax: N/A Filing Method: Call for form or obtain form from the Superior Court Clerks office Anonymity: N/A Delaware David Curtis Glebe Delaware office of Disciplinary Counsel 200 West Ninth Street, Suite 300-A P.O. Box 472 Wilmington, DE 19899 Phone: (302) 577-7042 Fax: (302) 571-9433 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes District of Columbia Leonard H. Becker District Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility 515 5th Street, NW, Building A, Rm. 127 Washington, D.C. 20001 Phone: (202) 638-1501 Fax: (202) 638-0862 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Florida John T. Berry The Florida Bar 650 Apalachee Parkway Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300 Phone: (850) 561-5600; out-of-state (800) 874-0005; In-State (800) 342-8060 Fax: (850) 561-5665 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Georgia William P. Smith, III State Bar of Georgia 800 The Hurt Building 50 Hurt Plaza Atlanta, GA 30303-2934 Phone: (404) 527-8720 Fax: (404) 527-8717 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Hawaii Carole R. Richelieu Supreme Court of Hawaii Office of Disciplinary Counsel1132 Bishop Street, Suite 300Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 Phone: (808) 521-4591Fax: (808) 545-2719 Filing Method: N/A Anonymity: N/A Idaho Michael J. Oths Idaho State Bar P.O. Box 895 204 West State Street Boise, ID 83701-0895 Phone: (208) 334-4500 Fax: (208) 334-4515 URL: http://www.state.id.us/isb Filing Method: Submit detailed letter to: Idaho State Bar; Box 395; Boise, ID 83701 Anonymity: Yes Illinois (Chicago & Northern Illinois) Mary T. Robinson Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission One Prudential Plaza, Suites 1100 and 1500 130 East Randolph Drive Chicago, IL 60601 Phone: (312) 565-2600 Fax: (312) 565-2320 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No (Central & Southern Illinois) Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission One Old North Capital Plaza Springfield, IL 62701-1501 Phone: N/A Fax: N/A Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Indiana Donald R. Lundberg Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission 150 West Market Street, Room 628 Indianapolis, IN 46204 Phone: (317) 232-1807 Fax: (317) 233-0261 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Iowa Norman G. Bastemeyer Iowa State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct 521 East Locust Street Des Moines, IA 50309-1911 Phone: (515) 243-0027 Fax: (515) 243-2511 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Kansas Acting Disciplinary Administrator Supreme Court of Kansas 3706 South Topeka Avenue, Suite 100 Topeka, KS 66609-1239 Phone: (913) 296-2486 Fax: (913) 296-6049 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Kentucky Barbara S. Rea Kentucky Bar Association Kentucky Bar Center 514 West Main Street Frankfort, KY 40601-1883 Phone: (502) 564-3795 Fax: (502) 564-3225 Filing Method: N/A Anonymity: N/A Louisiana Charles B. Plattsmier Louisiana State Bar Association Office of the Disciplinary Counsel 4000 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 607 Baton Rouge, LA 70816 Phone: (504) 293-3900 Fax: (504) 293-3300 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Maine J. Scott Davis Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar 97 Winthrop Street Augusta, ME 04332 Phone: (207) 623-1121 Fax: (207) 623-4175 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes Maryland Melvin Hirshman Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland 100 Community Place, Suite 3301 Crownsville, MD 21032-2027 Phone: (410) 514-7051 Fax: (410) 987-4690 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Massachusetts Arnold Rosenfeld Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers Office of the Bar Counsel 75 Federal Street, 7th Floor Boston, MA 02110 Phone: (617) 357-1860 Fax: (617) 357-1872 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Michigan Philip J. Thomas Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission Marquette Building, Suite 256 243 West Congress Detroit, MI 48226 Phone: (313) 961-6585 Fax: (313) 961-5819 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Minnesota Edward J. Cleary Minnesota Office of Professional Responsibility 25 Constitution Avenue, Suite 105 St. Paul, MN 55155-1500 Phone: (612) 296-3952; out-of-state (800) 657-3601 Fax: (612) 297-5801 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Mississippi Michael B. Martz Mississippi State Bar 643 North State Street P.O. Box 2168 Jackson, MS 39225-2168 Phone: (601) 948-4471 Fax: (601) 355-8635 Filing Method: N/A Anonymity: N/A Missouri John E. Howe Missouri Supreme Court Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel 3335 America Avenue Jefferson City, MO 65109 Phone: (573) 635-7400 Fax: (314) 635-2240 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Montana Betsy Brandborg State Bar of Montana P.O. Box 577 Helena, MT 59624 Phone: (406) 442-7660 Fax: (406) 442-7763 Filing Method: Call for form and information: (406) 444-2608 Anonymity: No Nebraska Dennis G. Carlson Nebraska State Bar Association P.O. Box 81809 Lincoln, NE 68501 Phone: (402) 475-7091 Fax: (402) 475-7098 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Nevada Rob Bare State Bar of Nevada 201 Las Vegas Blvd., Suite 200 Las Vegas, NV 89101 Phone: (702) 382-2200 Fax: (702) 385-2878 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No New Hampshire James L. DeHart New Hampshire Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee 4 Park Street, Suite 304 Concord, NH 03301 Phone: (603) 224-5828 Fax: (603) 224-5828 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No New Jersey David E. Johnson Jr. Supreme Court of New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics RJ Hughes Justice Complex, CN-963 25 West Market Street Trenton, NJ 08625 Phone: (609) 530-4008 Fax: (609) 530-5238 Filing Method: Contact them to find the secretary in the county of the lawyer in question Anonymity: No New Mexico Virginia L. Ferrara Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of New Mexico 400 Gold SW, Suite 1100 Albuquerque, NM 87102 Phone: (505) 842-5781 Fax: (505) 766-6833 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: N/A New York New York City-1st Dept. Manhattan & Bronx Hal R. Lieberman First Judicial Department Departmental Disciplinary Committee 41 Madison Avenue, 39th Floor New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 401-0800 Fax: (212) 545-8981 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: N/A New York City-2nd Dept. Robert H. Straus Second Judicial Department 2nd & 11rh Judicial District Grievance Committees Municipal Building - 12th Floor 210 Joralemon Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 624-7851 Fax: (718) 543-9828 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No New York State-2nd Dept. Gary L. Casella Second Judicial Department 9th Judicial District Grievance Committee Crosswest Office Center, Suite 200 399 Knollwood Road White Plains, NY 10603 Phone: (914) 949-4540 Fax: (914) 949-0997 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No New York State-2nd Dept. Duchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, West Chester Frank A. Finnerty, Jr. Second Judicial Department 10th Judicial District Grievance Committee 6900 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 102LL Syosset, NY 11791 Phone: (516) 364-7344 Fax: (516) 364-7355 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No New York State-3rd Dept. 28 Counties in New York State Mark S. Ochs Chief Attorney Third Judicial Department Committee on Professional Standards Alfred E. Smith Office Building, 22nd Floor P.O. Box 7013 Capitol Station Annex Albany, NY 12225-0013 Phone: (518) 474-8816 Fax: (518) 474-0389 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No New York State-4th Dept. 5th District Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties Gerard M. LaRusso, Chief Counsel Anthony J. Gigliotti, Principal Counsel Fourth Judicial Department 5th District Grievance Committee 465 South Salina Street, Suite 106 Syracuse, NY 13202 Phone: (315) 471-1835 Fax: (315) 479-0123 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No New York State-4th Dept 7th District Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Yates Counties Gerard M. LaRusso, Chief Counsel Daniel A. Drake, Principal Counsel Fourth Judicial Department 7th District Grievance Committee 42 East Avenue, Suite 404 Rochester, NY 14604-2206 Phone: (716) 546-8340 Fax: (716) 546-6676 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No New York State-4th Dept. 8th District Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties Gerard M. LaRusso, Chief Counsel Vincent L. Scarsella, Principal Counsel Fourth Judicial Department 8th District Grievance Committee 295 Main St., Room 1036 Buffalo, NY 14203-2560 Phone: (716) 858-1190 Fax: (716) 856-2701 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No North Carolina Carolin D. Bakewell A. Root Edmonson, Deputy Counsel North Carolina State Bar 208 Fayetteville St. Mall P.O. Box 25908 Raleigh, NC 27611 Phone: (919) 828-4620 Fax: (919) 821-9168 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No North Dakota Vivian E. Berg Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of North Dakota P.O. Box 2297 Bismarck, ND 58502 Phone: (701) 328-3925 Fax: (701) 328-3964 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter to: Penny Miller, Secretary; Judicial Wing, 1st Floor; 600 E. Bulevard Avenue; Bismark, ND 58505-0530 Anonymity: No Ohio Geoffery Stern Office of the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Ohio 175 South 3rd St., Suite 280 Columbus, OH 43215 Phone: (614) 461-0256 Fax: (614) 461-7205 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Akron - Summit County only Susan Lengal Akron Bar Association 90 South High Street Akron, OH 44308 Phone: (330) 253-5007; (330) 253-5687 Fax: (330) 253-2140 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Cincinnati - Hamilton County Edwin W. Patterson III Cincinnati Bar Association 35 East 7th Street, Suite 800 Cincinnati, OH 45202-2411 Phone: (513) 381-8213 Fax: (513) 381-0528 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Cleveland - Cuyahoga County Mary L. Cibella Cleveland Bar Association 113 St. Clair Avenue, NE, 2nd Floor Cleveland, OH 44114-1253 Phone: (216) 696-3525 Fax: (216) 696-2413 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Columbus - Franklin County Bruce A. Campbell Columbus Bar Association 175. S. Third Street Columbus, OH 43215-5193 Phone: (614) 221-0754 Fax: (614) 221-4850 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Dayton - Montgomery County Johathan Hollingsworth Dayton Bar Association 600 One First National Plaza Dayton, OH 45402-1501 Phone: (513) 222-7902 Fax: (513) 222-1308 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes In Toledo - Lucas County Susan Martin The Toledo Bar Association 311 N. Superior Street Toledo, OH 43604 Phone: (419) 242-9363 Fax: (419) 242-3614 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: Yes Oklahoma Dan Murdock Oklahoma State Bar Association 1901 North Lincoln Boulevard P.O. Box 53036 Oklahoma City, OK 73152 Phone: (405) 524-2365 Fax: (405) 524-9932 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Oregon Jeffery D. Sapiro Oregon State Bar P.O. Box 1689 5200 SW Meadows Road Lake Oswego, OR 97035-0889 Phone: (503) 620-0222 Fax: (503) 684-1366 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: N/A Pennsylvania John L. Doherty Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Union Trust Building, Suite 400 501 Grant Street Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone: (412) 565-3173 Fax: (412) 565-7620 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes if complaint is from another attorney or Judge, otherwise No Rhode Island David D. Curtin Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island Fogarty Judicial Annex 24 Weybosset Street Providence, RI 02903 Phone: (401) 222-3270 Fax: (401) 222-1191 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No South Carolina Henry B. Richardson, Jr. South Carolina Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline P.O. Box 11330 Columbia, SC 29211 Phone: (803) 734-2038 Fax: N/A Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes South Dakota Lawrence J. Zastrow State Bar of South Dakota 222 E. Capitol Pierre, SD 57501 Phone: (605) 224-7554 Fax: (605) 224-0282 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Tennessee Lance B. Bracy Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee The Oaks Tower, Suite 730 1101 Kermit Drive Nashville, TN 37217 Phone: (615) 361-7500 Fax: (615) 367-2480 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No Texas Steve Young State Bar of Texas P.O. Box 12487 Austin, TX 78711-2487 Phone: (800) 204-2222 or (512) 463-1463 Fax: (512) 477-4607 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Utah Acting Chief Disciplinary Counsel Utah State Bar 645 South 200 East Salt Lake City, UT 84111 Phone: (801) 531-9110 Fax: (801) 531-9912 Filing Method: Call the Consumer Assistance Hotline: (801) 297-7056 Anonymity: Yes Vermont Shelly A. Hill Vermont Professional Conduct Board Office of Bar Counsel P.O. Box 425 White River Junction, VT 05001 Phone: (802) 295-4106 Fax: (802) 295-4107 Filing Method: N/A Anonymity: Yes Virginia Michael L. Rigsby Virginia State Bar Eighth and Main Building 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500 Richmond, VA 23219-2803 Phone: (804) 775-0500 Fax: (804) 775-0501 Filing Method: Call for form or submit detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Washington Barrie Althoff Washington State Bar Association 2101 Fourth Avenue - 4th Floor Seattle, WA 98121-2230 Phone: (206) 727-8255 Fax: (206) 727-8320 URL: http://www.usba.org Filing Method: Call for form or obtain form from web-site Anonymity: Yes West Virginia Sherri D. Goodman Chief Disciplinary Counsel Office of Disciplinary Counsel 900 Lee St. East, Suite 1710 Charleston, WV 25301 Phone: (304) 558-7999 Fax: (304) 558-4015 Filing Method: Call for form Anonymity: No Wisconsin Gerald C. Sternberg Administrator Wisconsin Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility Madison Office, Suite 410, Tenney Building 110 East Main Street Madison, WI 53703 Phone: (608) 267-7274 Fax: (608) 267-0911 Filing Method: Call for form or submit a detailed letter Anonymity: Yes Wyoming Randal R. Arp, Bar Counsel Wyoming State Bar P.O. Box 109 Cheyenne, WY 82003-0109 Phone: (307) 632-9061 Fax: (307) 632-3737 Filing Method: Submit a detailed letter Anonymity: No