What do I do if I have a complaint against a lawyer?
It's always a good idea to try to work things out with your lawyer informally. If that doesn't work, you may file a grievance with the Disciplinary Commission. A grievance must be in writing on our form. You get a form by contacting our office:
Indiana Supreme Court
G. Michael Witte, Executive Director
Charles M. Kidd, Deputy Executive Director
251 North Illinois Street, Suite 1650
Indianapolis, IN 46204
or open and print the form from this website, available in Adobe PDF format below:
What complaints does the Disciplinary Commission handle?
We review any complaint against a lawyer. All lawyers must follow written standards for the ethical practice of law. The Disciplinary Commission enforces these rules. Matters that do not involve substantial claims of misconduct or that involve disputes over the amount of fees, unless the fees are clearly unreasonable, are not handled through the lawyer discipline system.
What are some examples of rule violations for which lawyers may be disciplined?
- Not promptly giving you money that your lawyer has collected on your behalf or not providing a complete, written accounting for that money.
- Unreasonably failing to respond to your requests for information, tell you about court dates, or appear in court.
- Being dishonest with you, a third party or a court, or advising you to lie.
- Improperly representing conflicting interests.
- Neglecting your case.
- Settling a case without your permission.
- Failing to return your papers upon request at the end of your case, provided you have paid fees that are due.
Who may file a grievance against a lawyer?
Anyone. Grievances are usually filed by the lawyer's clients, but they are also received from other lawyers, judges, or even opposing parties.
Does my lawyer still represent me after I file a grievance?
Yes, unless something is done to change the relationship. If you wish to end the representation, you must let your lawyer know that directly. Also, your lawyer may believe that he or she cannot adequately represent you after you file a grievance and may withdraw from representing you.
May I withdraw my grievance after I have filed it?
No. However, you should tell us if you have worked out your problems with your lawyer. That may have a bearing on how the matter is handled. It is not appropriate for the lawyer to give you anything of value or put pressure on you to ask that your grievance be withdrawn.
Is the Disciplinary Commission controlled by a bar association?
No. The Disciplinary Commission is an agency of the Indiana Supreme Court. Bar associations in Indiana are voluntary organizations of lawyers with no control over lawyer discipline. Sometimes local bar association committees assist the Commission with investigations, but they have no say in the outcome of a case.
Do tax dollars go to fund the Disciplinary Commission?
No. Lawyers pay an annual licensing fee to fund the work of the Disciplinary Commission.