Those looking to hire legal representation have a new option today for checking whether an attorney has discipline problems.
The State Bar of Arizona, the state’s attorney watchdog, has added the information to its Web site, allowing the public to see whether an attorney has been disbarred, suspended, censured or given other various sanctions.
“We know there are some who are in trouble and we want the consumers to know that, too,” said Matt Silverman, Bar spokesman.
The information has always been available to the public over the phone or in person, and the Bar gets about 1,000 inquiries a month about discipline. Before putting the information on the Web, the Arizona Supreme Court spent two years examining records dating back almost 70 years to check their accuracy, Silverman said.
The new feature offers not only a listing of the sanction a lawyer got, but a summary of the facts that led to it.
The most serious discipline will be published online indefinitely, while the less serious infractions will be displayed for five years, said Helen Perry Grimwood, state Bar president.
The lowest forms of discipline, for infractions that involved no harm to a client, won’t be published, but it will still be available over the phone or in person, Grimwood said.
Maret Vessella, deputy chief Bar counsel, said there are about 1,200 disciplined lawyers who will be found on the Web site.
The public will also be able to see a lawyer’s membership status with the Bar.
A lawyer who hasn’t paid Bar dues or pursued continuing legal education as required by law will be deactivated as a member and not allowed to practice, Vessella said. Being represented by a lawyer whose membership is inactive could have a significant impact on a client’s legal case, Vessella said.
www.azbar.org and click on “Find a Lawyer”