Receiving a California Bar complaint takes most lawyers by surprise.
You don’t have to face the bar alone. The real consideration is whether you
should represent yourself. There’s a lot on the line. Although some California
bar complaints are dismissed, many are investigation and prosecuted. In 2018, the
California Bar received almost 16,000 cases and reopened an extra 200. A little
more than 400 were turned over to the State Bar Court for discipline. The
California Bar initiated over 400 investigations. Out of that number, 25 cases
were closed with discipline. Those numbers may not seem risky to you, but there
are no guarantees that the California bar complaint you received won’t bring about
serious repercussions. Before you decide to represent yourself, answer these
Do You Understand the Potential Consequences Associated
with the California Bar Complaint?
The more serious the consequences, the more you should
consider partial or full representation. Don’t ever think that the worst
possible consequence couldn’t happen to you. We assure you that those who were
suspended or disbarred in 2018 likely felt that way: that it wouldn’t happen to
them. You might be able to handle a private reprimand and a sanction. What
would you do if you were suspended or facing disbarment?
If you’re looking for resources to help you handle a
California Bar complaint, we invite you to sign up for the State Bar Playbook.
Created by Megan, Star Bar Playbook
is an interactive resource related to California Bar disciplinary process from the
very beginning all the way through the appeals process. The site also has the California
ethics rules, commentary, forms you can use, and an entire community of
Who Filed the California Bar Complaint?
The identity of the complaining witness is extremely
important. The California Bar won’t always write off a complaint filed by a
current or former client. They will look at the complaint and decide whether they
should investigate. If the complaining witness is a member of the legal
community, such as a judge or another lawyer, the California Bar may feel as if
they have a duty to look closer at the facts leading up to the complaint. If
the complaining witness is a member of the legal community, it’s important to
consider hiring an ethics defense
Are You Emotionally Involved or Are You Objective?
Of course, we don’t expect you to be objective the first
time you read the California Bar complaint. Most lawyers are shocked, angry,
and scared. However, if you cannot shake the emotional response to read the
complaint and draft an objective response, you need to at least consult with an
ethics defense lawyer to get a grasp on the situation.
Coming off as angry, condescending, or overly defensive can
only lead to more problems for you. Do not allow your emotions to get the best
Have You Previously Received a California Bar Complaint?
If this isn’t your first California Bar complaint, it is
likely that you do need the help of an ethics defense lawyer. The California
Bar isn’t as likely to work with you or negotiate if you have a previous
history. In fact, it’s likely that the consequences you face will be more
Every Situation Is Different
While there can be similarities between California Bar complaints, the surrounding facts make each one of them different. If you received a complaint and you want to discuss your options and defenses, schedule your consultation with Zavieh Law.
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