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The Bar’s procedure for investigating and prosecuting complaints that are disciplinary

The Bar’s procedure for investigating and prosecuting complaints that are disciplinary

Florida Bar News

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There are a true number of things that can get a lawyer in hot water with The Florida Bar’s Lawyer Regulation Department. Some of the more common transgressions investigated by The Florida Bar include while any violation of the rules of professional conduct could warrant a disciplinary complaint

Theft of client funds,

Misrepresentation and other dishonest conduct,

Failure to comply with trust accounting rules,

Commission of a crime (in particular a felony),

Failure to communicate with clients,

Lack of diligence/competence,

Conflicts of interest,

Improper transactions with clients (for example, naming the lawyer as a beneficiary in a client’s shall),

Charging excessive fees,

Unprofessional conduct with opposing counsel and disrespect to the judiciary.

Lately, there has been a strong push from lawyers, judges, Florida Bar leaders, and the Florida Supreme Court to take a more aggressive stance against professionalism- related complaints. If trends continue, I would expect to see the prosecution of these types of complaints to increase in the years that are upcoming.

Stage 1 Complaint Intake & Preliminary Investigation

The process starts when a complaint is received by the Bar against a lawyer. Clients, opposing counsel, or judges may file complaints, or the Bar may discover potential misconduct through other means, such as media reports or notice of a bounced check from a lawyer’s bank.

Not all of the thousands of inquiries and complaints the Bar receives each are prosecuted year. After a complaint is submitted to the Bar, but before charges are filed, intake counsel conducts an investigation that is preliminary. Then the case is closed immediately without further action against the attorney if intake counsel determines that the allegations do not warrant discipline. However, if intake counsel determines that the facts alleged would constitute a violation warranting discipline, then counsel opens a file, notifies the accused attorney, and requests a response within 15 days.