The Discipline System

In Washington, the Supreme Court has exclusive responsibility for the lawyer discipline and disability system. Under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct, the Supreme Court delegates some of its authority to the Washington State Bar Association through the Disciplinary Board, hearing officers, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Ethics rules adopted by the Supreme Court are the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Structure of the Washington Lawyer Discipline System

State Supreme Court

  • Has exclusive authority over the entire system
  • Conducts appellate review
  • Orders all suspensions and disbarments, interim suspensions, and reciprocal discipline

Disciplinary Board

  • Reviews disciplinary recommendations and dismissals
  • Reviews hearing records and stipulations

Hearing Officers

  • Conduct public disciplinary hearings and other proceedings

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

  • Receives, reviews, and may investigate grievances
  • Recommends disciplinary action or dismissal
  • Presents cases at hearings

Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct

Procedures for the lawyer discipline system

Rules of Professional Conduct

Standards of ethical conduct for lawyers

Advisory Opinions

Search for an advisory opinion

Discipline Notices

Search for disciplinary actions against lawyers.

File a Complaint Against a Lawyer

Steps and forms for filing a grievance

Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection

Responding to a Grievance

FAQs about a lawyer's response

Annual Reports and Statistics

Information and statistics about the lawyer discipline system.

2015 Annual Report (includes statistical summary)

2014 Annual Report (includes statistical summary)

2013 Annual Report

2013 Statistical Summary