The California State Bar Discipline System protects the public’s interest in maintaining a just and principled society by providing the necessary safeguards against attorneys who are guilty of serious professional misconduct. The Bar is an administrative law court that is part of the California State University system. There are several levels of Bar Discipline to choose from, starting from the lowest membership all the way up to the highest membership judges. The highest members are called “Judges of the Bar.” In addition to helping lawyers defend their licenses when they are accused of disciplinary breaches, the California State Bar Discipline system helps all lawyers deal with complaints and represent their clients in disciplinary proceedings.
In disciplinary proceedings, attorneys are required to first attempt to resolve the matter informally. If no resolution is possible, a member of the Bar can request that a disciplinary committee convene to hear the case. If the case is heard and a guilty finding is reached, the attorney must then attempt to negotiate a way to correct the mistake or at least make the admission of guilt less damaging. The process can result in a new licensing action, suspension, or other penalty.
A good California State Bar Discipline System lawyer will be able to provide sound legal ethics advice for clients who are accused of professional responsibility offenses. He or she will also help an accused party build a strong defense by presenting evidence and presenting arguments in the appropriate legal forums. The attorney will also help the client understand his or her legal rights and responsibilities and assist the client in drafting a strong response to the complaint. The attorney will work in close conjunction with the client’s spouse or other relatives and friends to build a strong defense.
In most instances, the California State Bar Discipline System requires a trial before a three-judge court panel. The panel can only reduce the charges if there is a clear factual and legal foundation for the grievance. The Grievance Process Conference, which is the official body that governs the California State Bar Discipline System, is an optional statutory fee arrangement that is negotiated by the bar association and selected attorneys. The fee is established by the rules of the state.
The American Bar Association, the largest professional responsibility governing the legal profession in the United States, requires its members to affirm that they understand and meet all applicable Bar Examination requirements. The ABA also publishes a Standards of Professional Responsibility, which it considers the minimum standards of the legal profession. Members who violate these standards can face discipline, such as disbarment. Any member who wishes to pursue a hearing on a matter in which he or she believes they may have violated the Standards of Professional Responsibility can request that a hearing be held before the Bar Discipline Committee of the American Bar Association. The lawyer can also seek discipline by the Judicial Review Commission.
The California State Bar Association is the state body that governs lawyers in California. The Bar has crafted a Code of Ethics to ensure that attorneys remain committed to and practice with ethics. The code makes reference to the conflicts of interest inherent in the various fields of law. There are a number of ethics principles that are referred to in the Code of Ethics, including responsibility for clients, avoidance of self-interest, respect for the rule of law, avoiding duress, and respect for colleagues and the legal system. In addition, the code makes specific provisions for lawyers to respond to ethics questions that may come from a client, or a potential client, during the course of the lawyer’s practice.
An attorney cannot ethically help you remove your liability insurance or protect you against loss of work, but can advise you on how to respond to an insurer. This is known as “non-attorneys’ liability insurance”. In California, lawyers are prohibited from providing “advice in connection with the preparation of any advertisement, representation or Solicitation”. They can offer general advice to customers who contact them, but cannot provide legal advice or suggestions as to how to proceed.
An ethics attorney can give legal ethics advice to a client, explain the various rules of the legal system, discuss contractual obligations and advice on resolving disputes, reviewing a lawsuit, or presenting issues to a client for trial. In many instances, the attorney will act as the “go-between” for the client and the opposing party. This gives the client the opportunity to resolve a dispute without having to go to court. Failing to get advice on how to resolve a dispute properly from a lawyer may cost you a lot of money and time, and could subject you to serious litigation.