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Complaints Against Attorneys
1-800-843-9053 (toll free in California)
213-765-1200 (from outside California)
All lawyers who practice in California must live up to ethical standards
imposed by the California Supreme Court and the State Legislature. As an
arm of the California Supreme Court, the State Bar investigates and
prosecutes complaints against lawyers.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a lawyer can be given a
warning, put on probation, suspended from practicing law for a period of
time, or disbarred - prohibited from practicing law in California.
The Bar has limited authority to discipline lawyers for such behavior as
rudeness or making a single honest mistake. It is limited by law only to
complaints about unethical behavior as defined in the Rules of Professional
Conduct and/or the State Bar Act.
There is no fee to file a complaint. You also do not have to be a U.S. citizen.
When you register a complaint, you should supply photocopies of any
papers, such as letters or canceled checks, that relate to the problem. The
State Bar will let you know by postcard that your complaint form has been
received. Your complaint will then be input into the computer system. A
State Bar lawyer will read your complaint and determine how the complaint
will proceed. This process can take from two to three weeks. Your
complaint will then be assigned to the person that will conduct the
investigation. You will be informed of its status by a State Bar representative.
At the end of the investigation you will be informed in writing whether or not
the matter will proceed to prosecution in the State Bar Court or be closed.