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What does it mean when a lawyer has been "disciplined?"

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What does it mean when a lawyer has been "disciplined?" Why would a lawyer be disciplined?

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Attorneys are required to adhere to a high standard of conduct and many particular ethical rules regarding professional practice. The link below has New York's rules, which are similar in most states, having been originally "model" rules written by committees of the American Bar Association.

Attorneys are subject to "professional discipline" when they violate the rules. These can include written warnings, or admonishments, or in some cases, disbarment. While there are a wide variety of ethical rules which can be violated, most instances of discipline come about from either theft or mismanagement of client trust funds (i.e., attorney escrow accounts), or neglect of client matters an attorney has been paid and is responsible for, or failure to communicate with clients or respond to their inquiries in a timely fashion.

Most discipline arises from complaints of clients, and in New York and many other states, there is a regulatory tribunal of the courts or bar associations which review complaints about attorney misconduct and impose discipline or sanctions.


The Florida Bar is responsible for the licensing and discipline of lawyers in the state of Florida. The website for the Florida Bar states:

A disciplinary sanction is imposed on a lawyer upon a finding or acknowledgement that the lawyer has engaged in professional misconduct.

I have provided you with a link to the Florida Bar's website which explains the process and should answer your questions.

Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. The answer given is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for contacting an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and obtaining legal advice from such an attorney.


In Florida it means a grievance was filed against the lawyer for a violation of the published ethical rules and that the Florida Supreme Court disciplined the lawyer because of it.

The reasons could range from unintentional violations, like missing deadlines due to substance abuse, to stealing from clients or other felonies. Typically, minor isolated violations do not produce discipline.

Best to find out exactly what was involved. The file is public record and you can get a copy of it from the Florida Bar.

This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed. You may call me 772-562-4570; email me, or visit my website

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