We've helped hundreds of lawyers with issues related to the profession. Let our experience work for you—when you need it most.

Adams & Clark, PC
Attorneys at Law

Suite 200
520 East Portland Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

(602) 258-3542
(602) 258-1377 FAX

 

State Bar Defense

“Why do I need a lawyer to represent me with the State Bar?”

It feels like the worst thing that can happen to you as a lawyer: that dreaded envelope from the State Bar, with the little red stamp marked “Confidential”.  You've just received a bar complaint, and you don’t know what to do.  The last thing you want is to read your name in the discipline section of the “Arizona Attorney” magazine.  But you don’t believe you've done anything wrong, and since you know the facts better than anyone, why not just tell the Bar what you know, and be done with it.  Right? 

Wrong!  Lawyers often make matters worse by filing a pro se response that inadvertently expands the scope of the State Bar’s investigation.  Lawyers who represent themselves in bar discipline matters often receive more serious sanctions for comparable conduct than those who are represented by experienced defense counsel. The first responsive letter to a bar charge is critically important. 

According to the State Bar:
The respondent’s initial response is often the dispositive document in disciplinary proceedings. Staff bar counsel collectively screen approximately 1,200 charges annually and agree that the most effective response is a thoughtful, complete, dispassionate narrative, with any supporting documentation. State Bar’s Office of Lawyer Regulation 2007 Annual Report.

As with anyone, lawyers find it difficult to be dispassionate and objective when their ethical conduct is called into question.  You need an experienced attorney to guide you through this difficult process. 

Discipline Is Different

Don’t put your professional license in jeopardy by trying to represent yourself in a bar complaint.  The discipline system is different: it’s neither civil nor criminal, but sui generis (Supreme Court Rule 48).   It is complex, with its own unique rules, requirements you are unfamiliar with, players you likely don’t know, stringent time deadlines and serious consequences should things turn out badly for you. 

The costs associated with being investigated include your time, your reputation, your peace of mind and your wallet – as discipline costs have been drastically increased.  As attorneys, we all know how difficult it can be to deal with an unrepresented party; yet so many don’t get the help they need when faced with a foray into the “Lawyer Regulation” system. 

Our experienced attorneys have been practicing law for more than 40 years, including more than 25 years of experience in discipline and ethics issues.  Since 1995, our practice has been focused primarily on legal ethics.  We've helped hundreds of lawyers with State Bar matters; hardworking professionals trying to do the right thing—people just like you.  We’d like to help you too. 

Contact us for a free consultation about your case: if we think you don’t need to hire a lawyer, we will tell you so.  If all you need is someone to review your response prior to submitting it to the State Bar, we can help you with that too.  We will probably spot issues that you never thought of.