Do you face a Florida Bar Grievance?
Florida Bar Defense Lawyer
We Represent Attorneys before the Florida Bar
Allegations of misconduct or professional violations can result in censure or even revocation of your license. If you have received a grievance letter from the Florida Bar it is necessary that you provide well reasoned responses. Call now to speak with a Florida Bar defense lawyer as to how to adequately respond to your bar grievance or bar complaint.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. I have received a grievance letter from the Florida Bar, now what do I do?
Respond within fifteen (15) days from the date of your receipt of the grievance, or face a separate ethics violation.
See Rule Regulating The Florida Bar 4-8.4(g).
(g) fail to respond, in writing, to any official inquiry by bar counsel or a disciplinary agency, as defined elsewhere in these rules, when bar counsel or the agency is conducting an investigation into the lawyer's conduct. A written response shall be made:
(1) within 15 days of the date of the initial written investigative inquiry by bar counsel, grievance committee, or board of governors;
2) within 10 days of the date of any follow-up written investigative inquiries by bar counsel, grievance committee, or board of governors;
3) within the time stated in any subpoena issued under these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar (without additional time allowed for mailing);
(4) as provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure or order of the referee in matters assigned to a referee; and
(5) as provided in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure or order of the Supreme Court of Florida for matters pending action by that court.
Except as stated otherwise herein or in the applicable rules, all times for response shall be calculated as provided elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and may be extended or shortened by bar counsel or the disciplinary agency making the official inquiry upon good cause shown.
Failure to respond to an official inquiry with no good cause shown may be a matter of contempt and processed in accordance with rule 3-7.11(f) of these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
2. What do I need to respond to my grievance letter?
To adequately respond to a grievance letter get all relevant supporting documentation including but not limited to: the clients file, letters, call logs, notes, bank records, docket sheets, and emails.
3. Why should I hire a lawyer for this since I am a lawyer?
If you have received a grievance letter from the Florida Bar it is necessary that you provide a well reasoned response. Hiring a lawyer will provide a neutral assessment as to what if any Florida Bar Rules were violated and assist you in drafting and/or reviewing your response.
4. What is the difference between a bar complaint and a bar grievance? Bar Grievance is filed against you by typically your client or former client. A Bar Complaint is filed by the Florida Bar, before the Supreme Court. If the allegations in the grievance amount to misconduct a Bar Complaint will be filed and action will be taken by the Bar.
5. Does the Florida Bar have jurisdiction over me?
No formal complaint shall be filed by The Florida Bar in disciplinary proceedings against a member of the bar unless 1 of the following conditions has been met. Also the Florida Bar shall be limited to conduct as an attorney in relation to the business for which the attorney was permitted to practice in this state and the privilege in the future to practice law in the state of Florida. (Rule 3-4.1)
(1) Finding of Probable Cause. A formal complaint may be filed if there has been a finding under these rules that probable cause exists to believe that the respondent is guilty of misconduct justifying disciplinary action;
(2) Emergency Suspension or Probation. A formal complaint may be filed if the member is the subject of an order of emergency suspension or emergency probation that is based on the same misconduct that is the subject matter of the formal complaint;
(3) Felony Determination or Adjudication. A formal complaint may be filed if the respondent has been determined or adjudged to be guilty of the commission of a felony;
(4) Discipline In Another Jurisdiction. A formal complaint may be filed if the respondent has been disciplined by another entity having jurisdiction over the practice of law;
(5) Felony Charges. A formal complaint may be filed if a member has been charged with commission of a felony under applicable law that warrants the imposition of discipline and if the chair of the grievance committee agrees. A decision of the grievance committee chair to not file a formal complaint shall be reviewed by the full grievance committee. The grievance committee may affirm or reverse the decision.
(6) Discipline on Action of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. A formal complaint may be filed if the Supreme Court of Florida has adjudged the respondent guilty of judicial misconduct in an action brought by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, the respondent is no longer a judicial officer, and the facts warrant imposing disciplinary sanctions.
6. What is the Florida Bar Grievance Committee?
This is the Committee made up of attorneys and no attorneys that decides whether or not there is probable cause and if probable cause if found recommends the appropriate disciplinary action including filing a complaint with the Florida Supreme Court.
7. I have been arrested for and charged with a crime, do I have to disclose it to the Florida Bar?
All lawyers have to notify the Executive Director of the Florida Bar within 10 days of an arrest for a felony and 10 days after a conviction for any crime including misdemeanors.
8. Is what I did even a violation of any rule?
It depends the following are the most commonly violated rules of the Florida Bar.
4.1 FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE CLIENT'S PROPERTY
4.2 FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE CLIENT'S CONFIDENCES
4.3 FAILURE TO AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
4.4 LACK OF DILIGENCE
4.5 LACK OF COMPETENCE
4.6 LACK OF CANDOR
5.0 VIOLATIONS OF DUTIES OWED TO THE PUBLIC
5.1 FAILURE TO MAINTAIN PERSONAL INTEGRITY
5.2 FAILURE TO MAINTAIN THE PUBLIC TRUST
6.0 VIOLATIONS OF DUTIES OWED TO THE LEGAL SYSTEM
6.1 FALSE STATEMENTS, FRAUD, AND MISREPRESENTATION
6.2 ABUSE OF THE LEGAL PROCESS
6.3 IMPROPER COMMUNICATIONS WITH INDIVIDUALS IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM
7.0 VIOLATIONS OF OTHER DUTIES OWED AS A PROFESSIONAL
8.0 PRIOR DISCIPLINE ORDERS
10.0 STANDARDS FOR IMPOSING LAWYER SANCTIONS IN DRUG CASES
13.0 Standards For Imposing Lawyer Sanctions In Advertising and Solicitation Rule Violations
The most violated rule or cause for concern for most attorneys is the trust account Rule.
RULE 5-1.1 TRUST ACCOUNTS
(a) Nature of Money or Property Entrusted to Attorney.
(1) Trust Account Required; Commingling Prohibited. A lawyer shall hold in trust, separate from the lawyers own property, funds and property of clients or third persons that are in a lawyers possession in connection with a representation. All funds, including advances for fees, costs, and expenses, shall be kept in a separate bank or savings and loan association account maintained in the state where the lawyers office is situated or elsewhere with the consent of the client or third person and clearly labeled and designated as a trust account. A lawyer may maintain funds belonging to the lawyer in the trust account in an amount no more than is reasonably sufficient to pay bank charges relating to the trust account.
(2) Compliance With Client Directives. Trust funds may be separately held and maintained other than in a bank or savings and loan association account if the lawyer receives written permission from the client to do so and provided that written permission is received before maintaining the funds other than in a separate account.
(3) Safe Deposit Boxes. If a member of the bar uses a safe deposit box to store trust funds or property, the member shall advise the institution in which the deposit box is located that it may include property of clients or third persons.
9. My case was referred to the Grievance Committee, now what?
After Bar investigators gather statements and documents, the Bar staff attorneys review the evidence and determine whether the matter should be closed or referred to a grievance committee for further investigation. Most investigations eventually close with no adverse action, but in a few cases presenting a violation of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar probable cause is found by the committee for further discipline. Those cases are then referred to the Supreme Court for litigation.
CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT: STANDARDS FOR IMPOSING LAWYER SANCTIONS AND BLACK LETTER RULES