History of the Connecticut Judicial Seal Home Home BannerBanner

Case Look-up Courts Directories Educational Resources E-Services Juror Information Online Media Resource Center Opinions Opportunities Self-Help Frequently Asked Questions Home Attorneys Espanol menu
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

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.)

If probable 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 a lawyer?

  • 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.

Location

Telephone Number

Fairfield County

(203) 335-4116

Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, Tolland and Windham Counties

(860) 525-6052

New Haven County

(203) 562-5750

New London County

(860) 889-9384

  • 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.

Back to Top

How are people legally permitted to practice law in Connecticut?

Legal 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.

Back to Top

What are the rules of professional conduct?

View The Rules of Professional Conduct - (PDF).

Back to Top

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
    Telephone: (860) 223-4400, Fax: (860) 223-4488
    http://www.ctbar.org/External Link - You are leaving the Connecticut Judicial Branch website - (enter fee arbitration 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 lawyers.

  • A complaint, or grievance, is started by completing and signing a complaint form and mailing it to:

Statewide Bar Counsel
287 Main Street, Suite 2, Second Floor
East Hartford, CT 06118-1885.

  • Complaint Form JD-GC-6 - (PDF)

  • "Attorney Grievance Procedures in Connecticut" pamphlet  - (PDF)

  • 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.

Back to Top

What happens after a complaint against a lawyer is filed?

  • The procedure for disciplining lawyers is also in the Practice Book, beginning with Section 2-29. In addition, the Statewide Grievance Committee has adopted its own rules of procedure to 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 stated below.

  • Some reasons for dismissing complaints:

    • 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,

    • involves personal 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.

Back to Top

Where can I get more information about complaints about lawyers?

  • Review the publication "Attorney Grievance Procedures in Connecticut", available at every Superior Court Clerk's Office.
    "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:


  •  

    Statewide Bar Counsel
    287 Main Street, Suite 2, Second Floor
    East Hartford, CT 06118-1885
    Telephone: 860-568-5157
     

  • The Bar Counsel cannot advise you as to whether to file a complaint.

Can I get a list of recent complaint decisions?

Back to Top

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 commissioner.

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 commissioner.

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 loss;
  • A loss that was the result of malpractice or negligence;
  • 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 JD-GC-15 - "Application for Reimbursement - Client Security Fund" (PDF).

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 my claim?
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 to questions?
Contact the office of the Client Security Fund Committee at (860) 568-3450
or by email: Security.Fund@jud.ct.gov

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.

Back to Top

How do I find an attorney juris number?
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 find.



Back to Top
 

Attorneys | Case Look-up | Courts | Directories | Educational Resources | E-Services | Español | FAQs | Juror Information | Media | Opinions | Opportunities | Self-Help | Home

Common Legal Words | Contact Us | Site Map | Website Policies and Disclaimers

Copyright © 2014, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch