Submitting a Charge
If you believe an attorney has acted unethically or unprofessional, you may report that conduct through the State Bar’s Intake Department Hotline:
800.319.0514 (ext. 7280)
While the State Bar does accept charges submitted in writing we encourage you to call the Intake Hotline prior to submitting a written charge. An Intake lawyer can discuss your charge and guide you through the process. Before making that call, please read the following information about the Intake investigation process.
If you have already spoken to an Intake lawyer and would like to submit a written charge, click here.
The Intake Process
Most complaints about attorney misconduct start with a call to the Intake Department Hotline. An Intake Assistant will gather very basic information about the complaint. There is no need to provide all your information at this time. The matter will be assigned to an Intake Bar who will contact you to get the detailed information about your complaint.
The Intake Assistant will need only the following information:
- Your name and contact information
- If you have made a prior complaint you should let the assistant know so she can verify your contact information is current
- The name of the Respondent attorney
- Whether the attorney is your attorney or represents someone else
- If the attorney represents someone else, the name of the person they represent
- If there is a court case, the name of the court and the court case number
A very basic description of the alleged misconduct
The Intake Assistant will create an electronic file in our case management system and your matter will be assigned to an Intake Bar Counsel.
Intake Bar Counsel will contact you to gather details about your complaint before they contact the Respondent attorney. During this discussion Intake Bar Counsel may give you feedback on what issues are and are not ethical or professional in nature. Unfortunately, this feedback is often misinterpreted as a defense of the Respondent attorney, when in fact it is merely an attempt to secure a better understanding of the complaint and the evidence to support it.
Usually Intake Bar Counsel will then contact the Respondent attorney, discuss your concerns, and gather any relevant information or documents.
Intake Bar Counsel will then conduct any additional investigation, which may include additional contact with you or the retrieval and review of documents. It is not necessary to come to the State Bar office without an appointment. In most instances, the Intake lawyer cannot meet with you, without a previously scheduled appointment.
Intake Bar Counsel will then decide to do one of the following:
- Dismiss the matter
- Dismiss the matter, but provide an instructional comment to the attorney
- Offer Diversion for remedial measures
- Send the matter to a Screening Investigation
Respondent: Attorney under investigation.
Complainant: Person making the complaint.
Bar Charge: A complaint against an attorney.
Intake Bar Counsel: A State Bar attorney who conducts the preliminary investigation of a Bar Charge.
Litigation Bar Counsel: A State Bar attorney who conducts formal investigations and formal discipline proceedings.
Charges received by the State Bar of Arizona are resolved in several ways:
Charges are dismissed if the conduct alleged does not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct contained in Rule 42 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona.
Low-level violations or client relation problems may be resolved by the Intake Department. If the charges against an attorney are found to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, the attorney may be referred to a diversion program.
More serious violations, or repeated violations, may result in an attorney being required to pay restitution, ordered to pay costs, being issued an admonition, being placed on probation, reprimanded, suspended or disbarred.