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What does "censure" mean when applied to an attorney?

Colorado Springs, CO |

I was curious what the term "censure" means when it is applied to attorney discipline?

I ran across this the other day in researching some attorneys.

Can an attorney receive censure, but still be a competent attorney to hire?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    The lowest level of actual punishment for a violation of the legal ethics rules is private or public censure. This is basically a letter put in the attorney's file and either available to the public (public censure) or not (private censure) that says that the attorney has been found to violate the ethics rules, but the offense is not serious enough to justify suspension of the license to practice law for a period of time.

    The fact that an attorney was punished in the past for a violation of the ethics rules does not conclusively establish that there will be problems in your case if you retain the attorney. It is just one thing to consider when hiring an attorney.

    You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or info@Harkess-Salter.com. Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.


  2. Sometimes the censure relates to matters that are completely unimportant and unrelated to the quality of work provided to the attorney's clients. It is important to look into the record and determine the factual basis of the censure in order to know whether it should give you pause or affect your decision as to whether or not to hire a particular attorney.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


  3. A Public Censure is the lowest form of public discipline an attorney may be sanctioned for. Private Reprimands and Private Informal Admonitions fall below a Censure on the discipline ladder and Suspensions and Disbarments rise above a Censure. A Censure does not affect an attorney's ability to practice law and should give pause to a potential client about whether to retain the attorney. Some conduct is more reprehensible than other conduct, and a potential client will have to weigh the facts giving rise to the Censure to determine whether the attorney may or may not be a good fit for them.

    The information contained herein is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. I try to provide quality information, but make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this response. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.