If an attorney violates ethical rules, a complaint may be filed against the attorney with your state grievance committee. Courts also have jurisdiction over the conduct of attorneys and may impose sanctions particularly for conduct during the course of litigation.
The burden of proof for finding a violation of ethics, at least in Connecticut, is clear and convincing, which means that it has to be highly probable that it is true.
Importantly, all attorneys have a responsibility to be ethical, including associate attorneys. For example, in one case, an associate attorney was reprimanded for allowing misrepresentations take place during arguments during a court hearing. On appeal, the court upheld the reprimand although one judge dissented and did not believe there was clear and convincing evidence of a misrepresentation. The case went to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The associate argued on appeal that although he was present during the court hearing in question, it was his employer, not he, who made the statements to the court. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that an associate attorney has an obligation to correct misstatements of other attorneys, even if the attorney employs the associate. In this particular case, it was the associate who had a conversation with a third attorney that was being relayed during the court hearing. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that it was unethical for an associate attorney to remain silent and such silence may form the basis for a disciplinary action.
When considering filing a grievance against a law firm for unethical conduct, please keep in mind that more than one attorney may share responsibility.
(Click here for a brief summary of my other blog posts on various legal malpractice related issues)
(Disclaimer: Please note that nothing in this blog or website is legal advice, and this post does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal malpractice issues, fee dispute, or ethical concerns that you may have. Thanks!)
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