The New York Bar has standards in place to foster professionalism throughout the Bar. To ensure all lawyers adhere to these standards, there are appellate division and bar association grievance committees tasked to investigate and resolve grievances to determine if an attorney has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct or other ethical strictures.
Our attorneys provide knowledgeable defense of client grievances as well as sua sponte grievances brought by the committees based upon criminal convictions, news stories, etc. We have extensive experience in all areas of attorney discipline and are very familiar with the systems in which these matters are handled.
We will apply our experience and knowledge to your case and will work to resolve your situation as favorably as possible. Contact us to discuss the details of your case.
There are many reasons that a client may feel the need to file a grievance against an attorney. A client can file a grievance if they have any reason to believe that an attorney they worked with was dishonest, unethical, violated laws, or disobeyed the standards of conduct that are expected of legal professionals.
Some of the most common grievances are when a client believes that they:
The Appellate Divisions have original jurisdiction over attorney discipline and have appointed grievance committees throughout the state. If a client wishes to file a complaint, they must do so formally and in writing. Committees may also open an investigation sua sponte. Grievances that are deemed less serious may be directed to barassociations grievance committees for investigation.
The committee that reviews a grievance will evaluate the allegations of the complaint and determine if they set forth a colorable claim of professional misconduct. If so, the committee will contact the subject attorney so they can submit a response. Based on the lawyer’s response and the arguments presented, the committee will decide on the best way to further investigate and resolve the complaint. The manner of the committee investigations varies greatly from committee to committee and from case to case.
The grievance may be dismissed or the attorney may receive a warning or a private sanction. In ‘more serious’ cases, the grievance committee may bring the matter before the appropriate appellate division by the filing of a petition in a Special Proceeding. At this point the individual grievance committee members are no longer directly involved in the process, while the staff attorneys assume the role of prosecutor.
The reality is most lawyers are completely unfamiliar with and baffled by the grievance process. This is because these matters are confidential until resolved. Moreover, this is not a process taught in law school. Most lawyers, facing a grievance, and the tight time schedule the committee sets for filing a response, are panicked and uncertain as to what they should do. Many lawyers over-respond, creating additional problems for themselves. Some lawyers fail to properly respond, resulting in the serious charge of failure to cooperate.
Because grievances have the potential to cause the loss of license or otherwise damage careers, you should have skilled experienced grievance defense counsel to represent you. Our team is prepared to provide just that.