The Office of Bar Counsel was created in 1972 as a result of the Court Reorganization Act, which established the D.C. Court of Appeals. Pursuant to Rule XI of the D.C. Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar, the Office of Bar Counsel serves as the chief prosecutor for attorney disciplinary matters involving active or inactive attorneys who are members of the D.C. Bar.
In this capacity, the Office of Bar Counsel has a dual function: to protect the public and the courts from unethical conduct by members of the D.C. Bar and to protect members of the D.C. Bar from unfounded complaints.
The Office of Bar Counsel investigates all complaints and allegations of ethical misconduct and initiate appropriate resolutions, ranging from diversions, dismissals, and informal admonitions, to the preparation of formal charges.
In cases in which charges are formally presented by petition, the Office of Bar Counsel has responsibility for prosecuting the charges before a hearing committee, the Board on Professional Responsibility and ultimately the D.C. Court of Appeals.