HomeAn Emphasis on Ethics And Professionalism
An Emphasis on Ethics and Professionalism
The Louisiana Supreme Court continues to address public concerns regarding attorney misconduct. In 1990, Louisianaís lawyer discipline system became the first in the nation to incorporate the American Bar Associationís Model Rules for Disciplinary Enforcement, the hallmark of which is the use of non-lawyers in the disciplinary process.
The purposes of lawyer discipline proceedings are:
About the Board
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, which was established by the Supreme Court of Louisiana in 1990, is tasked with the responsibility of investigating all allegations of lawyer misconduct and with the responsibility of making recommendations to the Court when discipline is warranted.
The agency consists of a statewide board, hearing committees, disciplinary counsel and administrative staff.
The Disciplinary Board
The disciplinary board is composed of 14 members who are appointed by the Supreme Court. One member is nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association each year and must have prior lawyer discipline experience. Of the 14 members, four are members of the general public with diverse backgrounds. Women comprise 25 percent of the Board and one-third are minorities. The term of office for all board members is three years and no board member may serve more than two consecutive terms. None of the members of the Board receive any compensation for their services.
The Board itself is divided into two committees: a nine-member adjudicative committee and a five-member administrative committee. Three of the public members serve on the adjudicative committee and the remaining public member sits on the administrative committee. Each committee has separate duties and powers, although both committees have joint responsibility for some Board functions.
The adjudicative committee functions as an appellate court in the disciplinary system. Specifically, the committee reviews findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations of the hearing committees with respect to formal charges, petitions for transfer to and from disability inactive status, and petitions for reinstatement, and prepares its own findings and recommendations for proposed discipline, which are filed with the Supreme Court. In addition, the adjudicative committee has the power to administer reprimands, issue admonishments, impose probation, and rule on procedural matters.
The administrative committee is charged with appointing hearing committees and with the overall management of the system, including financial, facilities and human resources. The members of the administrative committee do not participate in or vote on matters involving appellate review functions of the adjudicative committee. The administrative committee also researches various trends in lawyer discipline and makes initial proposals for Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX amendments to the remainder of the Board for consideration. Such issues include prescription for ethical complaints and changes to the probation system. In addition, the public outreach program currently under way around the state was implemented by the administrative committee.
There are currently 47 hearing committees around the state. Each hearing committee consists of two lawyer members and one public member. One of the lawyer members is appointed as chair of the committee. Hearing committee members serve for three years and may not serve more than two consecutive terms. Like board members, the hearing committee members are not compensated for their services.
The hearing committees are divided into two tiers, each with assigned powers and duties. Primarily, the hearing committees in Tier I conduct hearings into formal charges of misconduct, petitions for reinstatement or readmission, and petitions for transfer to and from disability inactive status. Following the hearings, the committees submit to the board written findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations for proposed discipline.
Tier II hearing committees review dismissals of complaints by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) upon a request for review by the complainant.
The chair of each hearing committee has additional duties, such as conducting pre-hearing conferences, ruling on pre-hearing motions, and reviewing admonitions proposed by disciplinary counsel and accepted by a respondent.
Office of Disciplinary Counsel
The next component of the disciplinary system is the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which is charged with all prosecutorial functions. ODC is responsible for screening all complaints, investigating complaints and petitions for reinstatement and readmission and making decisions as to their disposition. In this regard, ODC may dismiss or recommend probation, informal admonition, a stay, the filing of formal charges (which must first be approved by the chair of a hearing committee), or petition for transfer to and from disability inactive status. Other duties include the maintenance of permanent records of discipline and disability matters and the compiling of statistics to aid in the administration of the system.
The final component of the disciplinary system is the administrative staff of the LADB, which includes the Board administrator, deputy administrator, docket clerks (for filing and other clerk of court functions), staff attorneys and support personnel. The administrative staff is appointed by the Board and is responsible for administering its day-to-day operations. The administrative staff is located at 2800 Veterans Boulevard, Suite 310, Metairie, Louisiana; all activities of the board also take place at this location.
Standards of Professional Conduct
The Supreme Court of Louisiana has adopted high standards of ethics and professional competence for lawyers who practice in Louisiana known as the Rules of Professional Conduct.
When lawyers enter practice in Louisiana they obligate themselves to uphold the law and to abide by these Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers who violate these professional and ethical obligations are subject to discipline. Lawyers in Louisiana (not taxpayers) pay for the disciplinary system by contributing to a statewide agency known as the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. This agency was established by the Louisiana Supreme Court for discipline when warranted.
The members of the Disciplinary Board and the staff of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) appreciate your interest and concern. They seek fair, impartial, and vigorous enforcement of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the interest of the public, clients, and the legal profession.
Disclaimer: The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (“LADB”) presents the information on this website (“ladb.org”) as a service to users. The LADB does not provide legal advice and the information on this Web site should not be construed or interpreted as such. We make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or at other sites to which we link © 1999-2012 Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.
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