Filing a Complaint Against a Family Lawyer in North Carolina
When you hire a family lawyer in North Carolina, you expect professional and ethical behavior. Unfortunately, there are instances where an attorney may not meet these standards. If you believe that your family lawyer has acted unethically or incompetently, you have the right to file a complaint. Here's how to navigate this process step by step.
Understanding the Grounds for Complaint
Before filing a complaint, it's important to understand what constitutes grounds for disciplinary action. Common reasons include:
- Violation of professional conduct rules
- Lack of communication
- Failure to return client funds or property
- Incompetence or negligence in handling a case
- Conflict of interest
Step 1: Contact the North Carolina State Bar
The North Carolina State Bar is the agency responsible for regulating attorneys' conduct in the state. To initiate a complaint, you must contact the State Bar's Office of Counsel.
Step 2: Submit a Written Complaint
A complaint must be written and signed by the complainant. You should include:
- Your name and contact information
- The name and address of the attorney in question
- A detailed explanation of your concerns
- Any relevant documents or evidence supporting your claim
While there is no specific form required for submitting a complaint, the North Carolina State Bar provides guidelines and examples on its website.
Step 3: Review by the Grievance Committee
Once your complaint is received, it is reviewed by the Grievance Committee of the State Bar. The committee will determine whether there is enough evidence to support allegations of professional misconduct.
Step 4: Investigation and Hearing
If the committee deems an investigation necessary, it will be conducted by a State Bar attorney. Should probable cause be found, a formal hearing before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission may occur.
Step 5: Resolution and Appeal
The outcome can range from dismissal of the complaint to disciplinary actions against the attorney, including reprimand, suspension, or disbarment. Decisions can be appealed within the State Bar's legal framework.
In one notable case from 1995, North Carolina attorney James Doe* was disbarred for misappropriation of client funds. The case underscores the importance of rigorous enforcement of ethical standards within the legal profession.
*Name changed for privacy.