Florida Bar Complaint Against Attorneys
You have spent countless amounts of time and money on becoming an attorney. However, one complaint leading to an inquiry by The Florida Bar can jeopardize this, leading to a permanent mark against you license, or even suspension, and in the most serious of cases, disbarment. If you are an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida and are facing professional responsibility or lawyer discipline matters, it is to your extreme advantage to obtain an attorney with extensive experience in Florida Bar defense.
Former Chair of The Florida Bar Disciplinary Review Committee
At Rothman & Associates, P.A., our lead attorney not only has decades of experience as a trial attorney, but was on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar (TFB) for more than a decade. During his last six years on the Board, he served as chair or co-chair of the Disciplinary Review Committee. This Board committee is responsible for reviewing and making final recommendations on lawyer discipline cases before the cases go on to the Florida Supreme Court.
Our bar defense practice focuses not only on the defense of lawyer discipline matters but mitigation and avoidance of any disciplinary action. Your reputation is obviously very important to the success of your career as an attorney. Let Rothman & Associates, P.A. help you successfully navigate any issues involving the regulation and discipline of Florida lawyers.
Attorney Discipline and Florida Bar Complaints
The rules regulating The Florida Bar encompass a wide range of issues, including personal conduct that may result in attorney discipline (criminal arrest, court sanctions, civil contempt, child support delinquency, etc.), handling of client trust accounts, misappropriation or embezzlement of funds, lawyer advertising, referral services, legal fee structure, and many others.
The following is a very general outline of the stages a disciplinary matter can go through:
- A complaint or grievance may be initiated by just about anyone – a client, opposing counsel, a judge, a party, a witness, an insurance company employee, a banker, a closing agent, or even someone totally uninvolved in a matter or case. Appellate decisions and newspaper articles may lead to a grievance. Once received by The Florida Bar, a file is opened and, if the complaint sets forth an allegation of impropriety, a letter is sent to the attorney seeking a written response to the complaint. The attorney facing the complaint, now known as a Respondent, must make a formal and timely response. Even at this stage it is critical to have an experienced bar defense lawyer at your side.
- If a matter is not initially resolved, it will be assigned to a Bar prosecutor in one of the 5 regional offices of The Florida Bar. It is at this point evaluated for formal charges. Ultimately, the complaint is investigated and submitted to a grievance committee, which determines if probable cause exists. Defense counsel is essential at this stage. Many cases can be favorably resolved with the help of a lawyer who understands the process.
- Once probable cause is found, the case becomes a formal prosecution, assigned to a referee, who is either a circuit or county judge in the circuit where the respondent practices. At this point, the referee level, the situation has become adversarial. The case may be dismissed or negotiated and settled or go to a hearing. As in other litigation, discovery applies, but in bar cases, the Rules of Evidence are relaxed. After the hearing, a report is issued by the referee, which is a recommendation, addressing both guilt and punishment. This Report of Referee then is reviewed by the Board of Governors (in committee and then by the entire Board) and thereafter submitted to the Florida Supreme Court. At each level, counsel for the Respondent can be a critical factor in the outcome of the case.
Our Florida bar defense lawyers in Miami can discuss your specific professional responsibility / lawyer discipline matter in a confidential consultation. Using extensive experience and knowledge of the applicable law and the complicated process, we will recommend the best course of action for your particular case. Our goal is to help you every step of the way.
Miami Bar Defense Attorneys
Rothman & Associates, P.A. assists lawyers facing disciplinary conduct and who are also seeking advice on ethics opinions. Please contact our Florida bar defense attorneys today. From our office in Miami, Florida, we serve lawyers and law students throughout Florida, particularly in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.