Being an attorney is not an easy job; a lost case could lead to an unhappy client. Sometimes clients, former clients, colleagues or other professionals may have an ethics complaint — also referred to as a grievance — that they will file with the Alaska Bar Association against you. The following is a brief overview of the grievance review/investigation process.
Filing the ethics complaint
First, it is important to note that the Bar Associations review and investigation of a ethics complaint cannot be disclosed to others. The failure to keep the ethics complaint confidential can lead to prosecution for contempt of court. The ethics complaint will be reviewed by Bar Counsel staff in order to ensure it meets all applicable technical requirements. If it is does not, it will be sent to the attorney at issue for an optional response.
Once the response of the attorney at issue has been received, Bar Counsel will review the claim. The attorney at issue may be asked to provide further information or comments if their response raises further questions. If the Bar Counsel suspects attorney misconduct has occurred, the ethics complaint will be fully investigated.
After the Bar Counsel reviews and investigates the claim, one of three things will happen. First, if the evidence does not uncover unethical conduct, the grievance will be dismissed. Second, the Bar Counsel may make a written private admonition, which will be put on the attorney’s record. Third, the Bar Counsel may file a petition for a formal hearing or enter a stipulation for discipline.
Learn more about ethics complaints
Finding out you are the subject of an ethics complaint can be distressing to an attorney. After all, their job and reputation are at stake. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Attorneys facing ethics complaints who want to learn more about their rights and options are encouraged to explore our firm’s website for further information.