The volunteer members of the State Bar's Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct (Ethics Committee) and Ethics Counsel for the Bar provide attorneys in Arizona with non-binding ethics advice. The Committee may issue written advisory opinions, and Ethics Counsel will provide advice by telephone regarding that lawyer’s own prospective conduct. The Committee and Ethics counsel cannot render opinions concerning a lawyer's past conduct or the conduct of another lawyer. Formal ethics opinions issued from 1985 to the present are available on the State Bar website.
Contact: Patricia A. Sallen, Ethics Hotline, 602.340.7284
Through the State Bar Fee Arbitration Program, fee disputes between lawyers and clients can be arbitrated at no cost to the parties. Participation is voluntary, and the parties must agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator or arbitration panel for a hearing to go forward.
In order to participate in the program, the fee dispute amount must be at least $500. A sole lawyer-arbitrator reviews disputes of $10,000 or less; a panel of two lawyers and one non-lawyer, upon request, reviews disputes above that amount.
CLIENT PROTECTION FUND
This fund, created by a vote of the State Bar membership in 1960 and supported by an annual fee from all Arizona lawyers, reimburses clients who have suffered a financial loss due to dishonest acts of their lawyers. Claims are only eligible for consideration if the lawyer is deceased, disbarred, suspended for more than six months, transferred to disability inactive status or interim suspension, or has been convicted of a crime arising out of the same facts.
Whether a claim is paid and the amount to be paid is at the sole discretion of the Client Protection Fund Board of Trustees. The maximum amount that may be paid per client is $100,000; the maximum amount payable per lawyer regardless of the number of clients submitting claims is $250,000.
Contact: Karen Weigand, 602.340.7286
This service protects the public by closing the law practice of the attorney who is no longer able to practice due to death, disability, disbarment or suspension, or who has abandoned his or her practice and there is no one to close it.
Contact: Sallie Scott, 602.340.7359
The Peer Review Committee addresses issues of unprofessional conduct that do not rise to the level of an ethical violation under the Rules of Professional Conduct. Common professionalism complaints include lack of civility and rude behavior between lawyers or between lawyers and their clients; and poor communications between lawyers and experts or health care professionals.
Committee members investigate and resolve complaints promptly, in some cases by telephone or, in other appropriate cases, by offering to mediate the dispute.
UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW (UPL)
The State Bar reviews all complaints regarding the unauthorized practice of law, compiles a database of such complaints and then either coordinates with other agencies to investigate or processes the complaints through the Supreme Court's regulatory procedure for unauthorized practice of law matters. The UPL Committee considers unauthorized practice of law issues and provides community education programs and CLE courses.
Contact: Ward Parker, 602.340.7266