Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP)

Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program

The Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program (A/CAP) may be able to help if a client is having a dispute with his/her attorney, if an attorney is having a dispute with his/her client, or if an attorney is having a dispute with another attorney.  If you want the assistance of A/CAP, please call the A/CAP at 602.340.7280.  Outside of Maricopa County call 800.319.0514 x7280.  Or you may complete the Charge Against a Lawyer online form.

Intake and Discipline Process

A/CAP serves the intake and prescreen functions of the State Bar's Lawyer Regulation Office.  A/CAP allows concerned individuals--attorneys and consumers--to speak with an attorney who is trained in dispute resolution and interpersonal communication, and who is also knowledgeable in the Arizona disciplinary process.  A/CAP attorneys listen, gather information, inform, and, as appropriate, attempt to resolve concerns brought to their attention.  When appropriate, they attempt to rebuild the trust between the individual complaining, say a client or opposing attorney, and the attorney about whom the inquiry is made.  In any event, serious charges are referred to bar counsel for investigation.

Upon receiving a telephone call, A/CAP first attempts to discern whether the complaint is of such a serious nature that it must be referred for investigation.  Serious complaints include dishonesty, theft of funds, abandonment of practice, and criminal convictions.

Less serious complaints are resolved as quickly as possible by answering the complainant's questions and/or facilitating a resolution between that party and the attorney about whom the concern is raised.  Often a consumer needs only a referral to an appropriate program or entity, such as, Fee Arbitration, the Client Protection Fund, Maricopa or Pima County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, Commission on Judicial Conduct, or Legal Aid.  Minor concerns, such as a recent lack of communication from an attorney or questions regarding case status are handled quickly by facilitating communication between the complainant and attorney.  A call to the attorney, alerting her or him to the inquiry, and the need for follow-up, usually resolves the matter.

Charges are screened under Rule 55(b), Ariz. R. Sup. Ct., Bar counsel may exercise discretion in determining what matters may be screened, however, typically, if the alleged misconduct would warrant the imposition of a sanction, the charge should be screened.

If the allegations fail to meet the threshold for investigation, the complainant is notified of this determination with an explanation of why the matter will not be investigated further.   The attorney at issue will also receive notification that the allegations were received but will not be investigated further.  The letter may request that the attorney perform some action, such as contacting the complainant to answer questions posed by the complainant, or returning documents.  In any event, the subject attorney will be notified of the nature of the allegations for informational purposes.  Allegations warranting further investigation are referred to litigation bar counsel.