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Conducting due diligence is important because it helps to identify and assess the potential risks of hiring the wrong attorney and helps to ensure that an informed decision can be made about the business relationship. Due diligence is an important step in the decision-making process of hiring a California attorney.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out if an attorney is licensed in California?
The easiest way to find out if an attorney in California is licensed to practice law is by visiting the California State Bar's website and perform a search using the attorney lookup tool.
Who is the governing authority for licensing and monitoring attorneys in California?
The State Bar of California is the regulatory agency for California lawyers in charge of admissions and discipline.
How are lawyers regulated in California?
The California State Bar licenses attorneys to practice law in the state of California. The State Bar also conducts investigations and reviews complaints against attorneys. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel is in charge of all reviewing attorney complaints.
When the investigation is finalized and if disciplinary charges are issued, the State Bar Court holds a hearing to review the charges. After reviewing all the evidence against the attorney, a State Bar Court judge makes a decision whether the attorney should face a suspension or disbarment. The proposed discipline then goes before the California Supreme Court for final approval.
How do you find an attorney's bar number?
You find an attorney's bar number by doing a name search using the attorney lookup tool, you can find this tool here
How do I report an attorney in California?
You can file a report online, reports are available in multiple languages and can be found by calling 800-843-9053
How do I check lawyer's reviews in California?
The State Bar of California does not maintain a record of clients' reviews (other than disciplinary records). You can use a variety of methods such as checking reviews from legitimate sources and attorney directories. Keep in mind though, most lawyer directories contain peer to peer reviews, other directories are paid listings.
As a certified lawyer referral service, 1000Attorneys.com - California State Bar Lawyer Referral Service is controlled by statute (Business & Professions Code section 6155 and State Bar Rules Title 3. Programs and Services. Division 5. Providers of Programs and Services. Chapter 3. Lawyer Referral Services).
California Attorney Discipline Statistics 2021
(data obtained from the California State Bar)
Public protection is the State Bar's highest priority. In 2021, the State Bar:
Opened 15,715 cases against California attorneys and non-attorneys holding themselves out fraudulently as licensees.
Filed notices of disciplinary charges in State Bar Court against 165 attorneys.
Recommended disbarment for 85 attorneys and suspension for another 159.
Opened more than 600 cases of unauthorized practice of law (UPL).
Referred 364 UPL cases to law enforcement.
The agency also reimbursed nearly $5.7 million to 291 victims of attorney misconduct.
A non-lawyer who presents him/herself as an attorney, or practices law, faces California misdemeanor penalties. These may include a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), up to one (1) year in county jail, or both. resigned from the State Bar of California with criminal charges pending.
Complaints of the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) are reviewed by the State Bar's Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC). Complaints from outside parties and matters that the State Bar initiates itself that allege UPL by a non-attorney are then investigated by the State Bar's dedicated UPL team.
Where the investigation uncovers an isolated instance of UPL, OCTC sends a "Cease and Desist" (CND) letter. Recent CND letters appear in this section. The CND letter serves as a warning and puts the respondent on notice that certain services/actions may violate the law and constitute the unauthorized practice of law.
Complaints raising repeated or multiple violations do not receive a CND letter but may result in the State Bar taking action in Superior Court to obtain an order to shut down the unlawful law practice.
Complaints about the unauthorized practice of law? Let the State Bar know here.