Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

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Latest post 09-26-2011 8:34 AM by Taxagent. 15 replies.
  • 09-23-2011 8:28 AM

    Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Is there a way to check with the local bar disciplinary board to check if any complaints have been filed against you and to get a copy of any complaints?

    I have no worries about discipline, but am curious to see if anything has been filed. The state is NY.  Thanks!

  • 09-23-2011 8:42 AM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    If you are an attorney and a complaint has been filed against you,  you would receive notice since the bar would be investigating the complaint.

  • 09-23-2011 1:26 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Thanks- in NY I understand that if a totally frivolous complaint is filed, the bar just writes back to the person making the complaint with a rejection and doesn't do more.  If that's the case, can I contact the bar and get a copy of the complaint and, if so, how?  Does my request go on my "permanent record" or the like?

  • 09-23-2011 1:42 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Call the NY Bar and ask them.

  • 09-23-2011 6:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    As a lawyer, you really should be familiar with your state's rules of professional conduct and how your state's disciplinary system works. I'm dismayed at how many attorneys actually don't know the rules well and don't really have a clue as to how the disciplinary system works. Considering that your license to practice (and hence livlihood) can be revoked if you screw up, this is something that no lawyer can really afford NOT to know. In NY, attorney discipline is handled by the grievance committee that covers the county where the attorney's office is located. Contact that grievance committee to find out what information they may maintain on any frivolous complaints they receive about you. 

  • 09-24-2011 1:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    It's possible that - like some others - this lawyer doesn't actually practice; if he had, he most likely would have come up against the issue of the unhappy client who cries "I'll report you!"  already.   It's not unusual for a lawyer to get into another industry (real estate in this case?) rather than law after a few years, often deciding they don't enjoy the practice.  A legal background can open many other doors as it is well known that law school trains one's mind, not just fill it with facts and ask for regurgitation.  Indeed, many are corporate execs these days.  Seems this poster's "friend" is just trying to use anything he can to manipulate, and malpractice with complaint to the bar is his weapon, though the OP apparently wasn't acting as a lawyer.

  • 09-24-2011 2:43 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Thanks for the responses.  To add:

    (1) I do understand (in general) how the complaint/disciplinary procedure works in NY.  If the complaint is frivolous, I understand that the person who made the complaint is notified that no action will be taken, and the lawyer about whom the complaint was filed is not notified.

    The current situation matches this.  I don't believe that I will be notified, as the complaint is totally without cause.  There is absolutely nothing that I've done wrong. I've been practicing for about 15 years and am super-careful to be as ethical as possible, all the time.

    (2) In the situation at hand, the fact that I'm a lawyer is totally irrelevant.  It's a matter involving a side business, and I am not acting as a lawyer myself but am represented by counsel.  The other person just wants to use every weapon imaginable.

    I might contact the bar association disciplinary board to get a copy of the complaint, but I wanted to check first to see (1) if it would be provided to me, given the facts above, and (2) if there will be any adverse effects on my "permanent record" from doing so.  If the complaint is totally frivolous, will my asking for it result in some kind of notation or otherwise make the situation worse?

  • 09-24-2011 11:03 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Local Landlord:
    If the complaint is totally frivolous, will my asking for it result in some kind of notation or otherwise make the situation worse?

    No.

  • 09-25-2011 12:05 AM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Local Landlord:
    In the situation at hand, the fact that I'm a lawyer is totally irrelevant.

    As inidicated in the other thread you started, the fact that this situation is not an attorney-client relationship does not preclude a person from filing a complaint.  In many licensed-professions, legal issues can arise where one is held to a standard (even if the relationship does not apply to that situation).  I am not an attorney; I am a CPA.  In my profession, if a person found that I was acting unethically, s/he could file a complaint and the governing body would determine from there whether it merited further investigation.

    Local Landlord:
    2) if there will be any adverse effects on my "permanent record" from doing so.  If the complaint is totally frivolous, will my asking for it result in some kind of notation or otherwise make the situation worse?

     No.  While your governing body may keep a complaint on file for its own purposes (E.g., demonstration that the body reviewed the complaint), it will not be "on your record" unless you were found to have violated a rule.

    I intend no disrespect, but I am a little surprised that you appear to lack knowlege of how things work in your licensing jurisdiction.  When you complete required CE hours, doesn't part of that include rules, procedures, and ethics?

  • 09-25-2011 12:05 AM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Local Landlord:
    In the situation at hand, the fact that I'm a lawyer is totally irrelevant.

    As inidicated in the other thread you started, the fact that this situation is not an attorney-client relationship does not preclude a person from filing a complaint.  In many licensed-professions, legal issues can arise where one is held to a standard (even if the relationship does not apply to that situation).  I am not an attorney; I am a CPA.  In my profession, if a person found that I was acting unethically, s/he could file a complaint and the governing body would determine from there whether it merited further investigation.

    Local Landlord:
    2) if there will be any adverse effects on my "permanent record" from doing so.  If the complaint is totally frivolous, will my asking for it result in some kind of notation or otherwise make the situation worse?

     No.  While your governing body may keep a complaint on file for its own purposes (E.g., demonstration that the body reviewed the complaint), it will not be "on your record" unless you were found to have violated a rule.

    I intend no disrespect, but I am a little surprised that you appear to lack knowlege of how things work in your licensing jurisdiction.  When you complete required CE hours, doesn't part of that include rules, procedures, and ethics?

  • 09-25-2011 12:21 AM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Local Landlord:
    I don't believe that I will be notified, as the complaint is totally without cause.  There is absolutely nothing that I've done wrong. I've been practicing for about 15 years and am super-careful to be as ethical as possible, all the time.

    Then may I suggest one other thing: stop stressing about this. If you've taken care to follow the rules of conduct (which can be implicated in activity outside your law practice) then you have nothing to worry about. You've already spent a lot more effort agonizing over this on these boards then it merits if the complaint is totally frivolous. The other guy wants to upset you — and if he succeeds he's achieving part of his goal here.

  • 09-25-2011 6:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    "I intend no disrespect, but I am a little surprised that you appear to lack knowlege of how things work in your licensing jurisdiction.  When you complete required CE hours, doesn't part of that include rules, procedures, and ethics?"

    In 15 years of practicing, I haven't been faced with a client complaint (or even suggestions of a client complaint), and I know of no lawyer friends or co-workers who have been faced with a client complaint.  So yes, we have to do ethics CLEs every year, but they haven't included the procedures for bar complaints- that's just not something that we deal with.

    Thanks for the replies- I will proceed with trying to get a copy of the complaint.

  • 09-25-2011 4:05 PM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Local Landlord:
    In 15 years of practicing, I haven't been faced with a client complaint (or even suggestions of a client complaint), and I know of no lawyer friends or co-workers who have been faced with a client complaint. 

    That is excellent. If you were honest in your dealings with this individual and your suit is not an abuse of the legal system, I don't think you have anything at all to worry about.  I've been fortunate to never have a complaint filed against me; part of that is because I -- like you -- try to employ the utmost integrity in all of my dealings.  However, that does not mean someone could get ticked off one day because I don't let them walk over me and could file a frivilous complaint.  The State Board of Accountancy in a jurisdiction where I'm licensed and the complaint is filed would look into it, determine if it warrants further investigation and go from there.

    Local Landlord:
    So yes, we have to do ethics CLEs every year, but they haven't included the procedures for bar complaints- that's just not something that we deal with.

    Thanks for the education.  ;o)  I just learned something new about CLEs for attorneys.  I am curious though - how many CLEs are required for attorneys and how many of those hours are on ethics?  Or does that vary by jurisdiction, similar to CPAs?

     

  • 09-25-2011 6:38 PM In reply to

    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    LG81:
    I just learned something new about CLEs for attorneys.  I am curious though - how many CLEs are required for attorneys and how many of those hours are on ethics?  Or does that vary by jurisdiction, similar to CPAs?

    The total hours of CLE required, how the hours are computed, and how many of the hours must be for ethics all vary by state. The practice of law is entirely regulated at the state level with one exception: federal courts have the inherent power to determine who may practice before them. NY imposes a requirement based on a two year CLE cycle. During each two year reporting period, an attorney other than a newly admitted attorney must complete 24 CLE hours, 2 of which must be devoted to ethics issues. Any excess hours earned in a two year period may be applied against the requirement for the next two year period. By way of comparison, Colorado requires 45 CLE  hours in a 3 year reporting cycle, 7 of which must be for ethics courses. Colorado does not allow excess credits earned in one period to be applied to the next cycle.

  • 09-25-2011 7:46 PM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Checking to see if there are complaints filed against you

    Thanks TA for the eduaction on this.  It sounds a little similar to the CPA profession wherein licensure requirements can vary by state.  Renewal periods often differ (E.g., in one of the states where I'm licensed, the renewal period is two years where another is three years).  CPE requirements also sometimes differ.  In the state where I was first licensed, things are very strict in terms of qualified CPE hours, the number of ethics hours required per renewal period, the limited number of carry-over hours, and NASBA qualified-provider requirements.  In another state, the requirements are more lax, even including the information that must be provided in regards to CPE records, and ethics CPE is only required every other renewal cycle.  In yet another state, a person only has to complete half of the number of ethics CPE as many states. 

     Geeze Louise, I wish things were more uniform.Initial licensing requirements also can vary by state.  In a few states, post-CPA exam experiene is limited.  I.e., in those states a person could hang out his or her hat as a CPA without fulfilling practical experience requirements (dangerous in my opinion).  When I was in public practice, I was part of a national team that worked on uniformity.  Some strides have been achieved, but factors are still variant.   Since going into prviate industry about ten years ago, I have discontinued participation in the uniformity efforts due to time constraints.  I guess what I should be thankful for, however, is that I earned my initial license in the strictest state, so reciprocity licensing in other jurisdictions has been nearly seemless (other then the mounds of paperwork and recommendations).  And gosh darn it, it would be so nice to have renewal periods/fees/CPE, etc. be uniform.  There is a lot to keep track of and lots of licensing fees to pay to the State Boards.

    CO is a little interesting in that DORA has handed many things over to the NASBA.  I was also a little disappointed that the CO requirements are not as strict as many states for this profession.  Why am I disappointed (but dont' dwell on it much)?  It's because I believe it's in the public's best interest to know what they are getting when they engage a CPA.  That mostly relates to individuals or small businesses (but thank goodness, most states require peer reviews depending on the types of services a firm provides).  Of course for SEC reporting companies, there are strict PCAOB requirements.

    Oh well, it is what is is.  I just wish that uniformity would come to fruition with the strictest of standards across the baord.  Of course, state tax and muni tax rules vary greatly; but US GAAP is US GAAP across the board; IFRS is IFRS (at least within the US - the IASB has not yet created complete uniformity across countries); PCAOB regs are PCAOB regs.  Although I think about all of this from time to time, it is not my battle to fight. 

    Sorry for the diatribe.  :)

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