Florida Bar Defense Attorney /
Florida Bar Complaint
We defend Florida lawyers in Florida Bar grievance complaints. Getting your Florida law license took enormous effort and resolve. Defending it against a Florida Bar complaint may require no less. You deserve an effective Florida Bar defense.
> Introduction / Should I Represent Myself?
Many Florida lawyers read the “Attorney Discipline” section in the Florida Bar News each month with a morbid curiosity, or secret dread. Who might be in there that we know? What ethical lapses did they commit? Surely, no Florida attorney wants to see his or her name published there. Defending Florida Bar complaints and avoiding or mitigating adverse outcomes in Florida Bar grievance cases is a primary focus of our practice.
Each year, the Florida Bar Lawyer Regulation Division investigates nearly 10,000 complaints against Florida lawyers. The vast majority of Florida Bar grievance cases are closed without formal discipline being imposed. This statistical reality, however, has no bearing on the outcome of any individual Florida Bar complaint. No Florida lawyer should ever discount the seriousness of a Florida Bar complaint. No Florida lawyer should ever assume that a Florida Bar grievance complaint will be dismissed merely because he or she feels it lacks substantial merit.
The first question that many Florida Bar respondents ask is: "Why not represent myself?"
> Self-Representation in Bar Cases
With all respect, the old adage about “a fool for a client” holds true in Florida Bar cases. Most lawyers are not effective advocating for themselves when acting as their own Florida Bar defense attorney. This is true for several reasons. Being too close to the facts of a bar case can affect a lawyer's objectivity. Also, the attorney's lack of familiarity in this area of Florida law can result in the attorney failing to recognize, and benefit from, strategic opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, a Florida Bar respondent has a very personal stake in the outcome of a bar grievance, and that may cause mistakes in situations where discretion could be the better part of valor.
It is important to understand that Florida Bar prosecutors have a certain amount of discretion in bar grievances. In appealing to that discretion, however, an inexperienced litigator will not have the knowledge base to understand how his particular situation may compare favorably, or unfavorably, to other Florida Bar cases.
A common mistake that lawyers make when representing themselves in Florida Bar grievance cases is not knowing when to stop explaining. In a Bar grievance, knowing what to say – or not say – can be a very nuanced matter requiring refined insight and careful judgment. On one hand, the Florida Bar expects and demands an explanation from the responding attorney (or Bar defense attorney), but then the Florida Bar is quite content to use that explanation against the respondent, if possible. Because the practice of law is a privilege, not a right, the privilege against self-incrimination cannot be invoked. DeBock v. State, 512 So. 2d 164 (Fla. 1987). As with criminal cases, however, Florida Bar attorney disciplinary cases have critical stages; therefore, the sooner the accused has effective Bar defense counsel, the better.
For these reasons, we do not recommend that you act as your own Bar defense counsel before the Florida Bar. You need effective Bar defense counsel at your side, as early in the process as possible. This cannot be overstated. Consult with a qualified Bar defense attorney immediately. We can help you fight for justice.
If it becomes imperative for you to defend a Florida Bar complaint, you should educate yourself as fully as possible on the attorney discipline process as soon as you possibly can, for knowledge is always a powerful ally.
END NOTE: Brett A. Geer served as a Florida Bar prosecutor for a number of years. He understands the rules, the mind set and the motivations involved. When Bar respondents represent themselves and act as their own Bar defense attorney, it is usually a gift to the Florida Bar's prosecution because, by the time many lawyers realize that their Bar defense is in trouble, it could be in deeper trouble than they realize. Contact us for more information regarding defending Florida Bar complaints.