A Guide to Attorney Disciplinary Procedures in Louisiana
How Are Attorneys Guided In Their Conduct?
The Supreme Court of Louisiana has adopted high standards of ethics and professional competence for lawyers who practice in Louisiana known as the Rules of Professional Conduct. When lawyers enter practice in Louisiana they obligate themselves to uphold the law and to abide by these Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers who violate these professional and ethical obligations are subject to discipline. Lawyers in Louisiana pay for the disciplinary system by contributing to a statewide agency known as the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. This agency was established by the Louisiana Supreme Court for discipline when warranted.
How Are Grievances Against Attorneys Handled?
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, which was established by the Supreme Court of Louisiana in 1990, is tasked with the responsibility of investigating all allegations of lawyer misconduct and with the responsibility of making recommendations to the Court when discipline is warranted. The agency consists of a statewide board, hearing committees, disciplinary counsel and administrative staff. Each complaint is reviewed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) to ensure that it falls within the jurisdiction of the agency. When the ODC obtains all necessary facts, an evaluation is made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of a Rule violation. The investigation will result in one of the following dispositions: 1. Dismissal of the complaint. 2. Imposition of a private admonition by ODC. 3. Commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings.
What Can I Expect From The Grievance Process?
The grievance process exists to protect the public. Disciplinary Board members and hearing committee members are not paid for their work, but volunteer to do this work in order to maintain the standards of the legal profession. By bringing a complaint to the disciplinary agency’s attention, the public helps the legal profession achieve its goal. The Office of the Disciplinary Counsel and the Disciplinary Board cannot represent you or give you legal advice. They cannot sue an attorney on your behalf, or seek the return of money or property from the attorney.
What is The LSBA Client Assistance Fund?
The Client Assistance Fund is a public service of the legal profession in Louisiana. It was created to compensate clients who lose money due to a lawyer’s dishonest conduct. Basically, the fund can reimburse clients up to $25,000 for thefts by a lawyer. It covers money or property lost because a lawyer was dishonest. The Fund does not cover losses resulting from a lawyer acting incompetently or failing to take a certain action. To qualify for the fund, clients must be able to show that the money or property came into the lawyer’s hands. For more information on the operations of the Fund and the filing of an application with the Fund, you may write to the Fund at 601 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA. 70130-3427 or call the Fund at (504) 619-0108.
What Is The Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program?
The LSBA Lawyer Fee Dispute Resolution Program was formed to resolve legal fee disputes between attorneys and clients as well as attorneys and other lawyers. If you are having a fee dispute with an attorney you may obtain the forms, rules, and guidelines to initiate the LSBA Lawyer Dispute Resolution. You may also contact (504) 619-0110 for more information or write to 601 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA. 70130-3427.
Who Can I Contact For Further Information Or In Order To File A Complaint Against An Attorney?
All complaints against attorneys must be filed with Office of the Disciplinary Counsel. Complaints can be filed in on of two ways: (1) By submitting a completed complaint form to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel. You can obtain a complaint form in person at the offices of the Disciplinary Counsel, or you can call 800-326-8022 to request that one be mailed to. Complaint forms can also be downloaded from their website at www.ladb.org. (2) By writing a letter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel including your name, address and telephone number. Describe what the lawyer did or failed to do and include all important information, including attorney name, address, phone numbers and dates of events. If letters, agreements or other documents are available, submit them to the ODC.
Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
4000 South Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 607
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
These are all programs that can be applied to at the same time and are essentially independent of one another. That filing a complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) does not mean you have applied to the Client Assistance Fund. Also, that filing a complaint with ODC, the filing of a Client Assistance Fund Application, or participation in the Fee Arbitration Program does not protect civil remedies or interrupt prescription. You are urged to consult with any attorney for legal assistance. There is no one on staff at the Louisiana State Bar Association to render legal assistance. To find a lawyer, please visit Lawyer Referral and Information.