Before a consumer or another potential client chooses to hire an attorney in Florida, he or she may wonder: “Are Florida Bar complaints public record?” The Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation handles the discipline system for the state.
Members of the public are then able to search those historical records for information about possible disciplinary actions. So, the short answer is “yes.”
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Finding Information on Florida Bar Disciplinary Actions
A member of the public looking for information on whether a particular attorney has been disciplined for unethical behavior has a few different ways of finding out this information. Below, you can read more about how you can look up these details.
Reading the Florida Bar’s Monthly Summary of Discipline
Each month, the Florida Bar publishes a report that lists attorneys who have received disciplinary action from the Florida Supreme Court during the previous month.
This summary contains a list of the attorney’s name, the address of their business, and the action that was taken.
Using a Searchable Form
The Florida Bar maintains a searchable database of every attorney licensed to practice in Florida. As part of that database, any disciplinary actions taken against each attorney are included as part of the individual lawyer’s database record.
Within the record, you can find individual public records about disciplinary action taken against a particular attorney. When you click on these records, you can see administrative or court documents and other information regarding the disciplinary action.
You also can find the attorney’s business address and other information through this database record.
If you’re asking whether Florida Bar complaints are public record because you want information about an attorney, you can get this information on the Florida Bar website. Understand that the Bar will only give you information that is related to that attorney’s public record.
If you are seeking information that is more than 10 years old about a particular attorney, you will need to make an email request.
What Constitutes a Complaint Against a Lawyer?
Complaints against lawyers can range from breaching ethics to being incompetent. Some examples of Florida Bar complaints that could result in disciplinary action include:
- A violation of client/lawyer confidentiality
- Conflicts of interest
- Taking “frivolous” cases
- Poor communication
- Withholding documents from the client
- Being ineffective, either because of a lack of knowledge or skill
- Withholding money from a client or taking money from them without rendering promised services
If a lawyer in Florida is found guilty of any of these offenses, they could suffer harm to their professional record or lose the right to practice law altogether.
The Process of Filing a Complaint Against a Florida Lawyer
If you’re wondering whether Florida Bar complaints are public record, you should know that consumers or other clients who feel as though a lawyer has treated them in an unethical manner have the ability to file a complaint with the Florida Bar through its Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP).
Florida’s Discipline Roadmap Infographic is a great resource to help you get started filing a complaint. Note that judges or other attorneys also can file complaints.
Every complaint that goes to the ACAP does not result in disciplinary action. The ACAP first will attempt to resolve the dispute through general negotiations.
What Happens after You Notify the ACAP?
The ACAP may find after its initial investigation that no action is required. This causes the case to be closed.
Should the ACAP move forward with an investigation, it will go through multiple levels. At each level, the case either will be passed on to the next level for further investigation, or it will be closed.
Ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court will have the final say on whether a particular case should result in disciplinary action against the attorney.
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Forty-Five Florida Lawyers Were Disciplined Between 2019 and 2020
All lawyers in Florida, regardless of their specialties, are required to abide by a certain set of rules and ethics. According to information compiled by the Florida Bar, between 2019 to 2020:
- Forty-two lawyers were disbarred.
- Zero lawyers had their licenses revoked.
- Three lawyers were “disbarred by consent.”
During that period, the Florida Bar had 108,615 members.
How Our Team Can Help You
We understand that your experience with your former lawyer may make you hesitate to undertake the legal process. However, you do not need to have that worry with us on your side. After we take your case, we can:
- Help you file your complaint
- Present evidence to reflect your account of events
- Manage all communications
- Keep you updated on your legal matters
We can also explain what types of damages you can recover if your case succeeds.
We Go the Extra Mile for Clients
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, our team is ready to protect the interests of our clients. If you are looking for legal representation in an action against an attorney, we are ready to serve you.
Call us for a free case review. We can talk about your experience with your former lawyer and what types of action are available to you.