Do I need a lawyer to file a complaint against my lawyer?
No. You may
file a complaint by filing the grievance complaint form described below. (See "How do I complain
about a lawyer?" below.)
cause is found, the Disciplinary Counsel will pursue the complaint before the
Statewide Grievance Committee. However, Disciplinary Counsel is not your lawyer
in the discipline process. Disciplinary Counsel cannot give you legal advice or
pursue claims that you may have against your lawyer outside of the diciplinary
process. If you feel that you need
legal advice, you may wish to hire a lawyer of your own for the disciplinary
process. (See "How do I choose a lawyer?" below)
How do I choose
Word of mouth. Talk to
your friends or relatives about a lawyer they may have used and who
they can recommend.
Call the local bar
association lawyer referral program for your area, listed below. The
programs charge a fee for a referral.
Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, Tolland and
New Haven County
New London County
If you have a low income
and you have been arrested, you may qualify for an attorney through
the public defender's office.
Apply at the public defender's office, located in each courthouse
handling criminal cases, on your first court date.
If you have a low
income and have a civil case (for example, divorce, landlord/tenant,
child support), call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320
(860-344-0380 for the Middletown area) for a lawyer or referral to a
lawyer who may help you for free or for a reduced fee.
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How are people legally permitted
to practice law in Connecticut?
Practice of Law in Connecticut:
The Superior Court regulates the practice of
law in Connecticut. There are three ways to
practice law legally in Connecticut. (They are more fully described in
the Connecticut Practice Book Sections 8 and following.)
- 1. Bar Admission;
- 2. CT recognition of attorney licensed
to practice law in another state (Pro Hac Vice); and,
- 3. Law student certification.
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What are the rules of professional conduct?
The Rules of Professional Conduct - (PDF).
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How do I complain about a lawyer?
First, talk to your lawyer
and try to resolve your complaint. You may also want to talk to one
of the other partners in the law firm.
If your complaint is about
fees, you may want to use the Arbitration of Legal Fee Disputes
process set up by the Connecticut Bar Association. To receive a copy
of the Rules for Arbitration of Legal Fee Dispute and the necessary
forms, please contact:
Connecticut Bar Association
30 Bank Street
P.O. Box 350
New Britain, CT 06050-0350
(860) 223-4400, Fax: (860) 223-4488
in the "Search CBA" box).
The court's Bar Grievance
Committee has authority to investigate serious complaints against
lawyers about misconduct or unethical behavior and to discipline
A complaint, or grievance,
is started by completing and signing a complaint form and mailing it
287 Main Street,
Suite 2, Second Floor
East Hartford, CT 06118-1885.
Complaint Form JD-GC-6 - (PDF)
"Attorney Grievance Procedures in Connecticut" pamphlet
Complaint forms are also
available at every Superior Court Clerk's Office. There is no charge
for filing a grievance complaint.
Lawyers are regulated by
the Superior Court. The standards governing the ethical behavior of
lawyers are called The Rules of
Professional Conduct. They are printed in the Connecticut
Practice Book, which is available at any courthouse law library.
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after a complaint against a lawyer is filed?
The procedure for
disciplining lawyers is also in the
beginning with Section 2-29.
In addition, the Statewide Grievance Committee has adopted its own
supplement those found in the practice book.
The Statewide Bar Counsel
reviews your complaint and either sends it to be investigated by a
grievance panel or sends it to the Statewide Grievance Committee
with a recommendation that it be dismissed for one of the reasons
Some reasons for
only involves a fee
dispute which is not clearly excessive or improper;
no claim of misconduct;
does not contain
specific enough information on which to base an investigation;
duplicates a complaint
already considered and dismissed; or,
behavior outside the practice of law.
Every Judicial District
has a grievance panel made up of one lay person and two attorneys
who do not have offices in the Judicial District. The panel decides
whether there is "probable cause" to believe that the lawyer is
guilty of misconduct. The grievance panel may hold a hearing on your
complaint as part of their investigation. A copy of the grievance
panel's probable cause decision will be sent to you within 120 days
of the referral to the panel.
All determinations of a
grievance panel finding that there exists probable cause of
misconduct are referred to the Statewide Grievance Committee for
further action. The committee conducts a hearing open to the public
on probable cause referrals. If the complaint is filed on or after
January 1, 2004, a disciplinary counsel will present the case to the
Committee at its hearing when probable cause of misconduct is found. If a grievance panel determines that there is no probable cause of
misconduct, it will dismiss the complaint. Such a dismissal is a
final decision, subject to no further review, unless there is an
allegation in the complaint that the attorney committed a crime, in
which case a finding of no probable cause will be reviewed by the
Statewide Grievance Committee. The Statewide
Grievance Committee is a board of 21 members. At least seven of them
are not lawyers. The committee makes the final decision on the
grievance or complaint.
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Where can I get more
complaints about lawyers?
publication "Attorney Grievance Procedures
in Connecticut", available at every Superior Court
"Attorney Grievance Procedures in Connecticut" JDP-GC-8
(PDF - Rev. 11/03)
Please note that the procedures
governing the attorney grievance process were changed by the Judges
of the Superior Court effective January 1, 2004. Complaints filed
before January 1, 2004 are governed by the procedures that were in
effect prior to that date. Those procedures can be reviewed in the
following version of the
"Attorney Grievance Procedures in
Connecticut" JD-GC-8 -
(PDF - Rev. 12/00).
If you still have
questions regarding the grievance process, please call or write to:
287 Main Street,
Suite 2, Second Floor
East Hartford, CT 06118-1885
The Bar Counsel
cannot advise you as to whether to file a complaint.
Can I get a list of recent complaint
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What is the Client Security Fund?
The Client Security Fund is a fund established by
the rules of the Connecticut Superior Court to provide reimbursement to
individuals who have lost money or property as a result of the dishonest
conduct of an attorney practicing law in the State of Connecticut, in
the course of the attorney-client relationship. The fund provides a
remedy for clients who are unable to obtain reimbursement for their loss
from any other source.
Where does money for the Client Security
Fund come from?
The fund is financed by a fee collected
from each attorney admitted to practice law in the State of Connecticut,
as well as each judge, judge trial referee, state referee, family
support magistrate, family support referee and workers' compensation
Who administers the Client Security Fund?
The fund is administered by the Client
Security Fund Committee, which is comprised of fifteen members. Nine of
the members are attorneys, three are non-attorneys, and three serve
either as a judge, appellate court judge, supreme court justice, family
support magistrate, family support referee or workers' compensation
What types of losses are covered by the Client Security Fund?
The Client Security Fund Committee may reimburse losses
resulting from the dishonest conduct of a Connecticut attorney who has
died, been adjudged incapable, not competent or insane, been disbarred
or suspended from the practice of law in Connecticut, been placed on
inactive status by a Connecticut court, resigned from the Connecticut
bar, or against whom a judgment has been obtained with respect to the
dishonest conduct. “Dishonest conduct” means wrongful acts committed by
an attorney, in an attorney-client relationship, or in a fiduciary
capacity arising out of an attorney-client relationship, in the nature
of theft or embezzlement of money or the wrongful taking of money,
property or other things of value. The committee will, in limited
circumstances, reimburse a loss based on an attorney’s refusal to refund
unearned fees received in advance.
What types of
losses are not covered by the Client Security Fund?
Losses that are not covered by the client security fund include:
- A loss that was the result of investment
services provided by an attorney;
- A loss presented more than four years after
the loss was discovered or should have been discovered;
- A loss suffered by a close relative,
business associate, partner, or employee of the attorney who caused the
- A loss that was the result of malpractice or
- A loss covered by an insurance policy or
contract, bond, or surety agreement, to the extent that the loss is covered
by the same.
In some cases, the Client Security Fund may
require you to pursue other remedies that you may have against the attorney who
caused your loss before considering your claim, such as filing a civil lawsuit
against the attorney or the attorney’s estate. The committee may also require
you to report the theft to appropriate law enforcement and/or attorney
disciplinary agencies before considering your claim.
How do I file a claim?
You may file a claim by completing and
returning a claim form, available from the office of the Client Security
Fund Committee, Second Floor, Suite One, 287 Main Street, East Hartford,
Connecticut, 06118-1885, telephone (860) 568-3450. The form should be
completed providing as much information as possible. The Client Security
Fund Committee may require additional information from you in addition
to the information provided in the form. Obtain a copy of form
- "Application for Reimbursement - Client Security Fund"
There is no
application fee. You are not required to be represented by an attorney,
although you may have one represent you if you wish. Attorneys may not
charge a fee for assisting individuals with their claim unless the fee
is approved by the Client Security Fund Committee.
What is the claims process?
Each claim is reviewed to determine if it
is eligible for reimbursement. If the claim is not eligible for
reimbursement, you will be notified. Eligible claims are investigated,
and the Client Security Fund Committee determines, in its sole
discretion, the amount of reimbursement that will be allowed, if any,
and how payment will be made.
What happens if I am awarded payment on
In order for you to receive payment, the
Client Security Fund Committee will require you to sign documents
transferring your claim against the dishonest attorney to the Committee,
in order to allow the Client Security Fund Committee to attempt to
obtain reimbursement from that attorney for amounts paid to you. If the
Client Security Fund Committee reimburses you for all or any part of
your loss, you are also required to cooperate with the Committee to help
them obtain reimbursement from the attorney for the amounts that were
paid to you.
How long does the claims process take?
It depends upon the length of time that
is required to obtain enough information for the Client Security Fund
Committee to make a decision regarding your claim. However, you will
receive a written decision regarding the claim once it is made by the
Client Security Fund Committee.
How can I get more information or answers
Contact the office of the Client Security
Fund Committee at (860) 568-3450
or by email:
Please note that
these answers to questions have been provided to you for informational
purposes only, and are not intended in any way to amend or supplement
the Superior Court rules or Committee regulations which govern the
Client Security Fund Committee. Reference may be had to the Connecticut
Practice Book, available at any Superior Court library, for the official
text of the rules governing the activities of the Client Security Fund
Committee. View the "Client
Security Fund Brochure, JDP-GC-16"- in PDF format.
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How do I find an attorney
To find the address or juris number of an
attorney admitted to practice law in Connecticut, go to the
"Attorney/Firm Inquiry" page on our website and enter
the last name of the attorney whose address or juris number you wish to