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What if I receive a bar charge?

Do I need representation in responding to a bar charge?

How do I submit a response to a bar charge?

Does the State Bar offer Diversion?

Does the attorney-client privilege prevent me from disclosing information to bar counsel?

Where do I file a formal pleading? 

What is a consent agreement?

 

Do I need representation in responding to a bar charge?

You are not required to be represented by a lawyer to prepare your response to a bar charge. However, some choose to consult with or be represented by counsel. If you choose to be represented, the State Bar encourages you to choose an attorney with experience in these matters. 

The Arizona Association of Defense Counsel (AADC) has established a program to provide a free initial consultation for attorneys asked by the State Bar to respond in writing to a disciplinary charge. A panel of experienced attorneys has been created to provide this service. If you are interested in receiving a free initial consultation please contact the AADC program coordinator:

Upon receiving your request, the project coordinator will contact a panel member to determine his or her availability.  The project coordinator will then put you into direct contact with the panel member to arrange for the initial consultation.  (Except as necessary to fulfill the foregoing assignment responsibilities, the project coordinator will maintain the confidentiality of disciplinary charges.)

How do I submit a response to a bar charge?

During the investigation of a charge, if the lawyer, alternative business structure (ABS), or legal paraprofessional (LP) is required to submit a written response, it should be submitted in letter format addressed to bar counsel assigned to investigate the charge. Please ensure that you have addressed all relevant issues raised in the charge. In most instances your response will be sent to the Complainant. If exhibits are necessary to support your response please submit them with your letter.

Does the State Bar offer Diversion?

Diversion is an alternative to discipline in appropriate cases. The State Bar has a robust Diversion program. Diversion shifts the emphasis in cases involving minor acts of misconduct away from disciplinary sanctions and toward rehabilitation.  It is designed to address minor acts of ethical impropriety that typically can be linked to poor law office management, chemical dependency, or other behavioral health problems. Current diversion programs include the use of the following programs:  Law Office Management Assistance Program, Member Assistance Program, continuing legal education, and Trust Account Ethics Enhancement Program.

Diversion is not available in cases of serious misconduct or which factually present little hope that diversion will achieve program goals.  Diversion will be considered in cases where, assuming allegations of ethical violation against the respondent are true, the sanction would be a reprimand or less, although some ethical violations warranting an admonition or reprimand may not, under all circumstances, be diversion eligible. Diversion is not available in cases which would warrant a suspension, disbarment, or license revocation, or where the attorney, ABS, or LP has acted dishonestly or in breach of a fiduciary duty.

Diversion matters are confidential.  Successful completion of diversion results in the underlying matter being dismissed. Thus, an attorney, ABS, or LP who successfully completes diversion will have no record of discipline arising from the underlying complaint. Diversion Guidelines

Does the attorney-client privilege prevent me from disclosing information to bar counsel?

No.  Attorneys, ABSs, and LPs are required to cooperate with the State Bar.  The ethical rules allow an attorney to submit confidential information to defend him/her self in a disciplinary inquiry.  If information is truly confidential, a party may request an order sealing a portion of the record.

Where do I file a formal pleading?

If the matter becomes a formal proceeding, pleadings need to be filed with the Disciplinary Clerk of the Supreme Court located at 1501 West Washington Street, Suite 102, Phoenix, Arizona 85007 with a copy being sent to the assigned bar counsel.

What is a consent agreement?

A lawyer, ABS, or LP against whom a charge has been made or a complaint has been filed may tender a conditional admission to the charge or complaint or to a particular count in exchange for a stated form of discipline, other than disbarment, at any stage of the proceedings.  Consent agreements are governed by Rule 57, Ariz. R. Sup. Ct.

For more information regarding the Discipline Process, click here.