DC Attorney Discipline System


What is the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) was created by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to investigate and prosecute complaints against lawyers licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.

How do I contact the ODC?

Office of Disciplinary Counsel
515 5th Street, NW
Superior Court Building A, Room 117
Washington, DC 20001
P:  (202) 638-1501
F:  (202) 638-0862
Hours:  Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

I am having problems with my attorney.  What should I do?

Try to resolve issues with your attorney by communicating your concerns clearly and asking for a response.  Your attorney should clearly explain the fee agreement and scope of representation, keep you apprised of developments in your case, and respond to any reasonable requests for information you may have.

Can you help me contact my attorney?

The D.C. Bar's Find a Member feature provides the same publicly available contact information for attorneys that we would be able to share with you.  If you are still unable to reach your attorney, you may need to file a complaint with our office.

Is my attorney licensed in the District of Columbia?

The D.C. Bar's Find a Member feature enables a search of all attorneys licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.  If an attorney is not listed as authorized to practice law and is advising you about D.C. law or representing you in Superior Court, please let us know.

Have other complaints been filed against my attorney?

You can look to see whether your attorney has been disciplined.  Disciplinary Counsel is not permitted to disclose whether complaints were filed against an attorney unless they result in public discipline.

When should I file a complaint?

If you believe your attorney has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, you should file a written complaint with the ODC.  You do not need to identify particular rules you believe the attorney has violated.  In general, the Rules of Professional Conduct ensure that attorneys provide competent representation, protect the interests of their clients, act fairly, and are honest.

Is there a time limit for filing a complaint?

No.  It may be more difficult to investigate a complaint after significant time has passed but there is no statute of limitations for filing a complaint with Disciplinary Counsel.

What can Disciplinary Counsel do?

Disciplinary Counsel has the authority to investigate complaints against attorneys.  If we believe an attorney has violated their obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct, we can seek to discipline the attorney.

What are things Disciplinary Counsel cannot do?

Disciplinary Counsel cannot:
  • Represent you in any proceeding
  • Give you legal advice 
  • Recommend an attorney
  • Stop other legal proceedings
  • Recover money
  • Force an attorney to do something
What information should I put in my complaint?

A complaint should contain all information allowing Disciplinary counsel to understand the problem.  This might include your contact information, the attorney's contact information, case numbers of underlying court cases, a description of the problem you are having with the attorney, and any supporting documents you would like us to consider.

Can I call Disciplinary Counsel if I have a question?

Yes.  All complaints need to be in writing, but if you have a question about the process or whether you should file a complaint, please call us at (202) 638-1501.

Is there a fee for filing a complaint?


Will I be notified of the outcome of Disciplinary Counsel's investigation of my complaint?

Yes.  We may reach out to you for further information, and you will be notified of the outcome of our investigation.

Can I withdraw my complaint?

No.  You may let us know if you are satisfied with any remedial actions taken by your attorney, but Disciplinary Counsel is still obligated to investigate your complaint.

Will the attorney know that I have filed a complaint?

If we determine that your complaint should be docketed for investigation because it alleges facts which, if true, would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, your complaint will be forwarded to the attorney for a response.

How can I get my money back from an attorney?

If you are unhappy about a legal fee, in addition to contacting our office you may wish to file a fee dispute with the D.C. Bar's Attorney/Client Arbitration Board.  If you have lost funds due to an attorney's dishonest conduct, you may be able to seek reimbursement from the D.C. Bar's Clients' Security Fund.

What if my attorney is licensed in another jurisdiction?

You can contact similar offices in other jurisdictions.