File a Grievance
Reporting unethical behavior of Texas attorneys helps reduce and prevent harm to the public and the legal profession. In order for the State Bar to investigate the attorney’s conduct, the person seeking to complain about the attorney must file a written grievance describing the attorney’s alleged Professional Misconduct with the State Bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. If you are not a client or former client of the attorney you are reporting, the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure set forth limitations regarding who may file a grievance.
You might find it helpful to speak with the State Bar’s Client Attorney Assistance Program staff in determining whether to report the conduct of the attorney and/or whether other resources might be beneficial. The Client Attorney Assistance Program is a statewide dispute resolution program which assists clients and attorneys in resolving minor grievances affecting their relationship. The Bar’s Grievance Information Helpline (1-800-932-1900) is answered by staff of this Program.
Please see the Attorney Complaint Information (English - Spanish) for answers to common questions about the grievance process. If you have questions about the grievance process, call the Grievance Information Hotline at (800) 932-1900.
You may also contact the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC) in your area.
The lawyer does not return client phone calls, emails, or letters.
The lawyer failed to appear in court or has missed deadlines.
The lawyer refuses to return a client’s file after a request is made.
The lawyer seems to have a substance abuse problem that affects his/her ability to practice.
The lawyer has not paid the client’s part of the settlement after the case has settled.
The State Bar of Texas' attorney grievance system cannot act as a liaison between you and the lawyer, nor can it:
Alter the decision made in a civil or criminal matter;
Substitute for civil or criminal remedies;
Force an attorney to proceed with a case;
Provide you with another lawyer;
Provide legal advice; or
Solve a fee dispute;
The above concerns must be handled in another forum, separate from the State Bar's lawyer grievance system.
If you are concerned with the fee arrangement established with your lawyer, please know that many local bar associations which are not affiliated with the State Bar have set up fee dispute committees to work with clients and their lawyers. Your local bar association's phone number can be found in your local telephone directory or on the local bar websites section of our website.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has a separate process for reviewing concerns/grievances against Texas judges.
State Commission on Judicial Conduct
PO Box 12265
Austin, Texas 78711-2265
The State Bar's toll-free Grievance Information Helpline (1-800-932-1900) can also help you determine whether to report the conduct of the lawyer and whether other resources might be beneficial.
State Bar of Texas
Chief Disciplinary Counsel's Office
P.O. Box 13287
Austin, Texas 78711
Fax: (512) 427-4315
NOTE: Use of the State Bar’s most current grievance form is required. All questions on the grievance form must be answered completely. If a question doesn’t apply to your situation, you must state “not applicable” or “N/A.” If you don’t know the answer to a question, state that you don’t know. Do not leave any section blank. Old versions of grievance forms, or grievance forms that are not complete with required information, will be automatically rejected and returned.
Include with your grievance form copies of all supporting documents such as letters, pleadings (court documents), emails, etc. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned. Additionally, please do not use staples, post-it notes, or binding.
If you are reporting the conduct of your current or former attorney, it is important to know that signing the grievance form waives the attorney-client privilege that would otherwise keep discussions between you and your attorney confidential. The form must be signed by the complainant and dated.
The Chief Disciplinary Counsel will review your grievance and, within 30 days, determine whether the conduct of the attorney as alleged might constitute Professional Misconduct, meaning a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. This review is called the “classification stage” of the disciplinary process. However, in some instances, prior to classification, you may be referred to the Client Attorney Assistance Program for assistance.
A grievance that is determined not to allege Professional Misconduct or that is filed by someone not eligible to file a grievance is classified as an “Inquiry” and is dismissed. A grievance that is determined to allege Professional Misconduct that is submitted by a person eligible to file a grievance is classified as a “Complaint” and is investigated by the Chief Disciplinary Counsel. You will be notified of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s determination in writing. You may appeal a dismissal to the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, and its decision is final or if you have new or additional information that was not included in your first grievance, you may amend your grievance and re-file it within twenty (20) days of the date you receive the dismissal notice.
If your grievance becomes a formal complaint, the attorney in question will be informed and asked to respond to the allegations within 30 days. Note, the attorney is also afforded an appeal of the classification by filing an appeal to the Board of Disciplinary Appeals (BODA). If BODA grants the appeal and reverses the classification decision, the grievance is dismissed. If BODA denies the attorney’s appeal, the Complaint moves forward to the next stage. The Chief Disciplinary Counsel then conducts an investigation to determine whether there is just cause to believe the alleged professional misconduct occurred. Based on its findings, the matter is either presented to a grievance panel for dismissal or proceeds to litigation.
The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel keeps confidential all information concerning any pending grievance(s). However, if the lawyer is found to have committed professional misconduct and receives a public sanction, information about the grievance is no longer confidential. All dismissed grievance files are disposed of, in accordance with Rule 2.13 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.
The Supreme Court of Texas created an ombudsman to be an independent source of information for the public and a monitor of the attorney discipline system. Learn more about the ombudsman here.