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Filing a Complaint

It is the goal of the legal profession that all lawyers be reputable and sincere. Acting through their bar association and the Supreme Court, lawyers adhere to high standards of ethics and they try to maintain those standards. One of the ways they do this is by following the procedures adopted by the Supreme Court. Through this disciplinary procedure the legal profession strives to establish rules of conduct that are the most exacting of any trade or profession. The goal is that the legal profession practices be conducted in an ethical manner for the protection of the public.

General Considerations

When they enter practice all lawyers obligate themselves to uphold the law and abide by the Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Those who violate these standards for professional conduct are subject to discipline, which in very serious matters, could mean suspension of the right to practice or even disbarment.

All lawyers, however, are not of equal abilities. Some are more capable than others and sometimes they make mistakes. A lawyer may lose the trust and confidence of a client for various reasons. In some cases this may result from unethical conduct. In other cases in which a client becomes dissatisfied, grounds for discipline may not exist because a lawyer may be disciplined only if the standards of professional responsibility have been violated.

Discipline of a lawyer is a very serious matter since it may drastically affect the lawyer. For this reason the procedures may seem rather involved, but are necessary to arrive at the facts of an individual complaint. However, the only concern is the protection of the public.

Because disciplining a lawyer is a serious matter, it takes evidence - proof of misconduct - to justify disciplinary action, just as it takes proof before any member of society may be penalized for wrong-doing. Likewise, the action of the lawyer must constitute misconduct. An honest disagreement about how a case should be handled - or should have been handled - does not constitute misconduct, even if the outcome of the case is disappointing.

Neither does mistake. Like all others, lawyers are human and sometimes make mistakes. If a mistake causes a loss, the client may be able to recover the loss in a suit against the lawyer. But a mistake or error in judgment by itself is not misconduct.

If you have a problem of inadequate communication - lack of sufficient agreement or some misunderstanding - it may be the problem can best be resolved by a frank talk with the lawyer.

Explain your dissatisfaction, and ask for a full explanation of the matter. Such a discussion will often eliminate, or lead to a solution of the problem. Or write, and keep copies of your letters.

If your efforts have not brought a satisfactory response, contact our office and fill out a complaint form.

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