Updated: Jul 24
The California State Bar Attorney Search tool can be found on their official website portal at calbar.ca.gov and it's a great filtering tool when looking for potential attorneys in your area. It offers a wealth of knowledge into an attorney's background and most importantly it can help you verify an attorney's credentials.
As reported in our attorney discipline channel, there's been situations where people pretend to be lawyers to commit fraud. There are also situations where an attorney who has been disbarred for committing fraud continues to practice law and taking on new clients.
The California State Bar Attorney Search tool is available for both the public and law enforcement to verify an attorney's credentials in the state of California. It can assist you to conduct due diligence and make better decisions when considering hiring an attorney.
This database in always updated to reflect any new disciplinary action against an attorney, or when a new attorney has been granted a license to practice law in the state of California.
The California State Bar Attorney Search tool is also valuable to verify an attorney's contact information, education, and prior disciplinary actions. You can easily look up any attorney in California by their name or using their bar number.
What the California State Bar Search Tool Can Do
It can help you search for active California lawyer who are in good standing
History of any disciplinary actions taken against the attorney.
The date the attorney was admitted to the California State Bar.
The law school where the attorney graduated from.
Continuing education and specialization.
Primary office location and phone number.
You can also request a copy of any disciplinary records.
What the California State Bar Search Tool Cannot Do
It cannot provide you a referral to a California attorney.
It does not provide information about the attorney's competence.
It does not have information on client or peer reviews.
The tool does not reflect any complaints lodged against an attorney, it only displays the outcome of an investigation and disciplinary decisions.
The tool does not include criminal background checks.
It does not display working experience.
It does not track legal fees charged by the attorney.
The tool does not have any information about the attorney's performance.
Why It's Important To Look Up A California Lawyer
Hiring a California attorney is an important decision, specially if your freedom of financial stability are at stake. The California State Bar Search tool is a great point of reference to begin an investigation into an attorney's background. However, it doesn't include all the information you'd need to make an informed decision.
Disciplinary actions against an attorney are only available once a formal investigation has been conducted and a final decision by a court has been issued. For example, if several clients file a complaint against a particular attorney at the same time, this information will not be available for months until the California State Bar conducts an investigation on these claims.
Suspending or disbarring an attorney is a very difficult decision and it isn't taken lightly by the California State Bar which is why these actions take a long time to be processed. They must also conduct due diligence and verify if the attorney has a history of misconduct, unethical behavior and lack of professional responsibility with his or her clients.
Once you have verified the attorney is in good standing with the California State Bar and that there's no adverse negative information on their profile, you can use other directories and client review tools to have a better idea of what you can expect when you hire the attorney you are considering. Getting a lawyer referral from a trusted source is ultimately the best way to find a reputable California lawyer.