The disciplinary system for Texas lawyers is governed by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. If you think your lawyer is behaving unethically, there are a few steps you can take. First, you can write a letter to the lawyer outlining your position and requesting that they take the necessary steps to resolve the issue. Second, you can hire a different lawyer to handle the matter.
Third, you can contact the bar association in your local state and file a formal complaint against the lawyer. The disciplinary section of the state bar association will then investigate the complaint. Lawyers can be sanctioned for a variety of reasons, from not paying their bar fees to embezzling client funds and serious ethical violations. Some lawyers who have been sanctioned are no longer eligible to practice law.
It is important to never hire an attorney who is not currently eligible to practice law in your state. The most common form of public discipline is suspension, followed by disqualification. The majority of complaints were filed by the lawyers' own clients, who stated that their calls had not been returned, that their cases had been neglected, or that their money had been stolen. Unfortunately, state ethics committees are comprised of lawyers and, unless the transgression is publicly egregious, little disciplinary action will be taken.
According to Kilgore, “the only automatic triggers that exist are likely to exist, such as if a lawyer is convicted of a felony”. Other triggers include if the defendant lawyer has previously received two or more public reprimands for violations of the same disciplinary rule in the previous five-year period; or if they have received two or more private reprimands for violations of the same disciplinary rule or not in the past 10 years. Approximately 0.23 percent of the nearly 1.3 million practicing lawyers in the U. S.
have been disabled due to disciplinary action. Once disabled, the lawyer's name is removed from the lists of members of the Supreme Court and they must surrender their lawyer's license and lawyer's license. At the end of an active suspension, they are eligible to practice law provided that all other eligibility requirements are in effect such as payment of bar association fees and compliance with continuing legal education requirements. The terms of probation generally require the defendant lawyer to refrain from committing further misconduct; not to violate any state or federal criminal laws; keep the State Bar Association informed of current postal, residential and business addresses; comply with continuing legal education requirements; comply with rules for maintaining trust accounts; respond to any request for information from Senior Disciplinary Counsel in connection with an investigation of allegations of misconduct; and respond to any request for information from Chief Disciplinary Counsel in connection with an investigation of allegations of misconduct.
This type of disciplinary measure is public and has a fixed duration; however, it is “probationary” meaning that during this period they can practice law but must comply with specific “terms of probation” throughout this period. Under the code of professional conduct everyone is required to report concerns about the honesty, reliability or aptitude of another lawyer and could easily lead to disciplinary action.