As an attorney, you know you must adhere to the ethical responsibilities of the profession. The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct define lawyers' responsibilities and proper conduct to maintain the integrity of the profession. The Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure establish the procedures to be used in the professional disciplinary system for Texas attorneys.
The Texas Rules of Professional Conduct define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. And upholding the rules requires an understanding of the rules. The Rules "are imperatives, cast in the terms 'shall' or 'shall not.'" The Comments on the rules, however, are "often cast in terms of 'may' or 'should' and are permissive, defining areas in which the lawyer has professional discretion." Comments on the Rules are meant to illustrate applications of the Rules and provide guidance for interpreting the Rules. However, the Comments do not create obligations and no disciplinary action may be taken for failure to conform to the Comments.
What Constitutes "Misconduct" for Texas Attorneys?
The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 8.04 Misconduct reads:
(a) A lawyer shall not:
- violate these rules, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another, whether or not the violation occurred in the course of a client-lawyer relationship;
- commit a serious crime or commit any other criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
- Section (b) defines “serious crime” as "barratry; any felony involving moral turpitude; any misdemeanor involving theft, embezzlement, or fraudulent or reckless misappropriation of money or other property; or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of another to commit any of the foregoing crimes."
- engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
- engage in conduct constituting obstruction of justice;
- state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;
- knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law;
- violate any disciplinary or disability order or judgment;
- fail to timely furnish to the Chief Disciplinary Counsels office or a district grievance committee a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, unless he or she in good faith timely asserts a privilege or other legal ground for failure to do so;
- engage in conduct that constitutes barratry as defined by the law of this state;
- fail to comply with section 13.01 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure relating to notification of an attorneys cessation of practice;
- engage in the practice of law when the lawyer is on inactive status, except as permitted by section 81.053 of the Government Code and Article XIII of the State Bar Rules, or when the lawyers right to practice has been suspended or terminated, including, but not limited to, situations where a lawyer’s right to practice has been administratively suspended for failure to timely pay required fees or assessments or for failure to comply with Article XII of the State Bar Rules relating to Mandatory Continuing Legal Education; or
- violate any other laws of this state relating to the professional conduct of lawyers and to the practice of law.
Of course, the above Rule 8.04 provides only a partial list of conduct that can subject an attorney to discipline. In Texas there are four principal sources of professional obligations for attorneys: the State Bar Act, the State Bar Rules, the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. And as attorneys, we are presumed to know the requirements of each.
Allegations of Misconduct Against Texas Attorneys
Allegations of misconduct against an attorney are serious. A single complaint, even if successfully defended and found to be meritless, can harm a legal career.
If you are a licensed attorney in Texas and facing a grievance from the Texas State Bar, you know that the best course of action is to hire a professional license defense attorney to represent you. We don't have to tell you the importance of facing misconduct or malpractice allegations head-on and from the start.
If you are facing a formal complaint against your law license, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced Legal Malpractice Defense Attorneys. Our results-driven attorneys are well-versed in successfully dealing with formal complaints against Texas attorneys.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed attorneys across the entire State of Texas. We have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Contact us today or call (512) 887-7305 and schedule a case evaluation.