In 2014, the majority of grievances filed against Washington
lawyers originated from current and former clients and opposing
clients. Grievances can also be opened in the name of the Office
of Disciplinary Counsel when potential ethical misconduct comes
to the attention of disciplinary counsel by other means.
Disciplinary “actions” include both public disciplinary “
sanctions” and admonitions. Disciplinary sanctions are, in order of
increasing severity, reprimands, suspensions, and disbarments.
In Washington, admonitions are also a form of public discipline.
Review committees of the Disciplinary Board also have authority to issue advisory letters if a lawyer should be cautioned. An
advisory letter is neither a sanction nor a disciplinary action and
is not public information. For less serious misconduct, ODC may
divert a grievance from discipline if a lawyer agrees to a diversion
contract, which if successfully completed results in dismissal of
the grievance. In 2014, 31 matters were referred to diversion.
In 2014, 71 lawyers were disciplined. The chart below tracks
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Disbarments 21 19 26 29 15
Resignations in Lieu of Discipline 5 9 6 3 8
Suspensions 24 18 21 31 34
Reprimands 32 18 22 26 11
Admonitions 11 10 10 6 3
Total 93 74 85 95 71
Lieu of Discipline
Other Lawyer 2%
the number of disciplinary actions
imposed over the last five reporting
Special procedures apply when there
is cause to believe that a lawyer is
incapable of properly defending a disciplinary proceeding, or incapable of
practicing law, because of mental or
physical incapacity. Such matters are
handled within the discipline system,
but under a distinct set of procedural
rules. In some cases, counsel must
be appointed for the respondent
lawyer at WSBA expense. In disability
cases, upon a determination that the
respondent lawyer does not have the
capacity to practice law, there is a
transfer to disability inactive status.
In recent years, the number of
lawyers transferring to disability
inactive has increased. In 2014, eight
lawyers were transferred to disability
inactive status based on an incapacity to practice law.
For more information on the lawyer discipline system, go to www.wsba.org and
follow the Licensing & Lawyer Conduct
heading. To view the full 2014 Disciplinary
System Annual Report, go to http://bit.
ly/2014discreport. N WL
SOURCES OF GRIEVANCES FILED
DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS 2010–2014