Once you have decided to file a complaint about a lawyer with the State Bar of California, you must file a complaint about a lawyer.
The Office of Chief Trial Counsel processes complaints from clients, members of the public and other attorneys about unethical professional conduct by a lawyer.
Form complaint about a lawyer (Attorney complaint form)
Complaint form about unauthorized practice of law by a person who is not a lawyer (Unauthorized practice of law complaint form)
You do not have to pay anything to file a complaint. Do not forget to attach copies of any document that will help you support your claim. You do not have to be a US citizen UU to file a complaint, and the Bar Association will not ask about your citizenship or immigration status.
You can also call the State Bar's Multilingual Reception Hotline at 800-843-9053 (in California) or 213-765-1200 (outside of California) to request the form or ask how the complaint process works.
When you have finished filling out the form, mail it to: The State Bar of California Office of Chief Trial Counsel, Intake Unit 845 South Figueroa StreetLos Angeles, CA 90017-2515
This chart explains what happens after you file your complaint.
When the bar association has received your complaint, you will receive a notice in the mail and an experienced attorney at the State Bar will review it.
If the complaint is not about an ethics violation or you do not provide information about an ethics violation, the file will be closed and you will be notified by mail. (If applicable, you may request that the State Bar Audit and Review Department review the file).
If the file does not close, a State Bar Complaint Analyst (supervised by a State Bar attorney) will write to the attorney named in the complaint and ask you to give your side of the story. In addition, additional documents may be needed to determine if further investigations should be conducted.
If there is not enough evidence to prove a serious ethical violation, the school can issue a warning to the lawyer. The bar association may issue an Agreement in lieu of disciplinary action (Agreement in Lieu of Discipline), for which the attorney agrees to take corrective action. This type of agreement is not considered a disciplinary action.
If the State Bar attorney reviewing the complaint concludes that there is evidence of a serious violation, a full investigation will be initiated.
If the State Bar decides to file charges against the lawyer, the case will go to the State Bar court. The judge can dismiss the case, issue a private or public rebuke, or recommend the suspension and expulsion of the lawyer. The Supreme Court of California has the final say in disciplinary cases against lawyers.
If you lost money or property because a lawyer did something dishonest, you can recover it by submitting a request to the Client Security Fund. But first you have to file a complaint about the lawyer. Get more information about the Client Security Fund .