What actually occurs if I file a complaint with the bar? How damning is that to an attorney?If threatened with that-- how likely is that to get their attn?
State/Country relating to question: Massachusetts
because of neglect-- I have tried unsuccessfuly to get them to return my emails/tel calls-- even actually begging them to do so--- never getting a response. They are in a different state so i cannot go to their office. Up until now we had an excellent very professional relationship-- a real mystery. My consideration is to report them to the bar--- but my impression is that is very inconsequential.
Thank you for your question today. I appreciate your patience while I responded to you.
The entire process on how to file a bar complaint and what happens when a complaint is filed in Massachusetts against a law is explained here. Where possible, the Attorney and Consumer Assitance Program will try to resolve issues between a lawyer and a client. So, such as in your case, ACAP may contact the lawyer and try to get in touch with them and let them know that the client has contacted them and is unhappy, etc.
Normally, the call from ACAP should be a wake-up call to a lawyer that the matter could escalate if not addressed. That should be the end of it, your lawyer should contact you.
Where a person does file a complaint, it is screened by ACAP and then passed to the Office of Bar Counsel. If a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct is determined to have been committed, a lawyer can face a variety of sanctions -everything from an admonition for something minor, to suspension or disbarment for serious or repeated violations.
Getting a call from ACAP is bad - being informed that a complaint has been filed against you is worse. It's probably the worst thing that can happen to a lawyer because it potentially effects their livelihood. I can't speak for Massachusetts personally, but I can tell you that complaints are taken very seriously and investigated if passed onto the Office of Bar Counsel.
It sounds like you've given them every opportunity to respond to you, but I wouldn't necessarily warn them that you are going to go the bar. After all, you wouldn't warn someone that you were going to punch them in the face first, you'd just do it. Sometimes, that's what needed. Call ACAP (the number is XXXXX the link I provided above) and see if they cannot assist you.
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Ok--- several things. How do I find out if this person is even alive - or still practicing or somehow "sanctioned? Can I find out if they have received other complaints? Will the bar tell me this stuff? Is there a website where I can go and look them up?Also-- I don't want to rock the boat too much as I don't want them to fire me as I cannot afford another lawyer/retainer--- i feel stuck as there is a matter pending with the IRS and I don't want to contact them myself.
You can search for the attorney by name on the Board of Bar Overseers website, here. That should pull up their disciplinary history, if any, as well.I realize you don't want to rock the boat, but you have the right for your lawyer to keep in contact with you, as well. But that is also why I suggested contacting ACAP first. It may just be an issue where once ACAP is able to locate and get in touch with your lawyer and stresses to them that it is important for them to contact you, your lawyer does just that, and there's no need for the matter to go further.
If I suffer any consequences because of her non-communication I will take legal action.
That certainly is your right, if the lawyers is negligent in the handling of your case and it results in damages to you, you may have a cause of action for legal malpractice.
Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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