Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Our Authority

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) is the department of the Bar Association responsible for reviewing, investigating and prosecuting grievances about the ethical conduct of Washington lawyers. The chief disciplinary counsel is the department director. There is one intake unit, three investigation-prosecution units, and one unit of investigators. The intake unit receives all phone inquiries and written grievances and conducts the first review of grievances, dismissing some, and recommending further investigation for others.

After a confidential investigation, if disciplinary counsel believes there is evidence of an ethical violation or a lawyer's disability, disciplinary counsel may refer a matter to a review committee of the Disciplinary Board. Among other things, a review committee may dismiss the matter, order further investigation, or order a hearing. Disciplinary counsel may divert less serious matters to rehabilitative programs.

Disciplinary hearings are public. Volunteer hearing officers conduct the hearings. The Disciplinary Board considers appeals from hearing officer decisions. Disciplinary actions include admonition, reprimand, suspension up to three years, disbarment, probation, and restitution. The Disciplinary Board and state Supreme Court review all cases involving suspension or disbarment.

Public Discipline

If you have a lawyer's name or bar number, see the Legal Directory. You can also access public disciplinary information on the Discipline Notices page. Be aware that the list of discipline notices may not show a lawyer's entire discipline history.

For more information about public discipline against a lawyer, please contact the Clerk to the Disciplinary Board.

How We Can Help

For communication problems with your lawyer, for disputes about the return of a file, or for fee disputes, please see our FAQ page. 

If you are complaining about a Washington lawyer, see File a Complaint Against a Lawyer. Note that we cannot represent you, refer you to a lawyer, or help you decide whether to file a grievance.

Resources for Lawyers

To speak with professional responsibility counsel about ethics issues, Washington lawyers can call the Ethics Line (206-727-8284 or 800-945-WSBA, ext. 8284).

If you are complaining about another lawyer, please call 206-727-8207 to speak to disciplinary counsel. Disciplinary counsel can discuss the RPC that might apply to the conduct you describe but cannot give an opinion on whether conduct violates the RPC. You are not required to disclose the name of the lawyer who is the subject of your call. Also see RPC 8.3 (reporting professional misconduct is not required but self-regulation creates an aspiration to report serious violations of the RPC), and ELC 5.3(d) (investigations may be deferred when allegations relate to pending civil or criminal litigation). Grievances can be filed electronically.

See the Discipline History Certificates page for information about requesting a Certification of Current Status or Certification of Status History.

For trust account questions, our booklet, Managing Client Trust Accounts, may be helpful.

For information about responding to a grievance, also see Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct and Related Rules.

Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct

Procedures for the lawyer discipline system

Rules of Professional Conduct

Standards of ethical conduct for lawyers

Concerns About a Lawyer

Information about filing a grievance

Responding to a Grievance

FAQs about a lawyer's response