A family member asked me about the Office of Lawyer Regulation the other day. As I was trying to explain it to her, it struck me that it’s a little like the medical boards that govern doctors – but there are a few key differences. Sometimes we forget that if you’re not a lawyer, you don’t automatically know all these things, so here’s a breakdown of what the Office of Lawyer Regulation does.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation: Functions
The Office of Lawyer Regulation handles all kinds of cases involving only lawyers. They investigate and prosecute lawyers who have been accused of misconduct. The Office handles things such as financial misconduct, sexual misconduct, and violations of ethics rules.
Who Governs the Office of Lawyer Regulation?
The Office of Lawyer Regulation falls under the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s authority. They receive the grievances and then take the cases before the Supreme Court, who ultimately decides the lawyer’s fate.
How Does the Office of Lawyer Regulation Work?
The Office of Lawyer Regulation takes complaints, whether they’re from other attorneys, judges, or anyone else. Their staff screens them to see whether they’re dealing with actual misconduct or a violation of ethics rules before they take any kind of action. (Sometimes people aren’t satisfied with the services their attorney performed, but the lawyer isn’t guilty of any sort of misconduct.)
From there, if they have sufficient information and they believe they’re dealing with a potential case of misconduct, they’ll begin to investigate or refer it to a district investigative committee. Once all the evidence is together, they’ll determine whether they have a case. The director can choose to dismiss the case or to give the lawyer involved a reprimand; the lawyer can, of course, contest.
If necessary, the Preliminary Review Committee will assign a referee to the case, and the referee’s decision is final on whether they’ll proceed further. They’ll hold hearings, just like in any other court case, and then the referee will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court about the next course of action.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation is there to protect the public from attorneys who don’t work well within the system.
What questions do you have about being a lawyer? I’d love to answer them – just let me know on my Facebook page or in the comments below.