Colorado Supreme Court -
Attorney Regulation Counsel

Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center
Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation
1300 Broadway, Suite 500
Denver, CO 80203
New Phone: (303) 457-5800
or toll free 1 (877) 888-1370


 

 Attorneys Must Meet High Professional Standards
Becoming a licensed attorney requires many years of difficult studies and successful completion of a grueling state-administered bar exam. The Colorado Supreme Court has established high standards of ethics for attorneys. The standards are contained in the Court rules and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (Volume 12 Colorado Revised Statutes Chapter 20) and the Appendix to Chapters 18-20).

The Court has also established procedures regarding the investigation of alleged unethical conduct. The procedures are designed to provide a thorough and objective review of the attorney's conduct, and to resolve the matter in a way that is fair to the complainant and to the attorney.

To administer the procedures, the Colorado Supreme Court has appointed an Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel; a nine-member Attorney Regulation Committee, composed of both attorneys and lay persons; and an Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. (No tax dollars are used to fund the attorney regulation process.)

  Ethics and Discipline        
 
When attorneys enter the practice of law, they take an oath to uphold the law and to follow the standards of ethics established by the Colorado Supreme Court. An attorney who violates the law and/or those standards is subject to discipline. In cases involving minor misconduct, an attorney may be admonished, censured, or placed in a diversion program. In serious matters, attorneys face suspension of their license to practice law or disbarment.

The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel receives many requests for investigation regarding conduct that does not constitute a violation of the standards of ethics. For example, attorneys who have honest disagreements with their clients about how a case should be handled - or should have been handled have not engaged in ethical misconduct. Similarly, an error in judgment is not necessarily unethical conduct. Attorneys, like everyone else, make mistakes. Only if the mistake constitutes gross negligence will it be a cause for discipline.

Except for unusual circumstances, a disagreement over legal fees is not evidence of misconduct. Persons having fee disputes will usually be referred to a voluntary committee of the Colorado Bar Association that arbitrates fee disputes. The CBA committee will attempt to help the parties reach a fair settlement of the problem.

Finally, there are situations which a client may find most annoying, but which do not constitute unethical conduct. An example would be the attorney's failure to explain fully what is going to happen in the client's case, or the attorney's failure to respond to each of the client's telephone calls. Nonetheless, the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel is anxious to see that attorneys avoid these situations. The office will suggest steps that attorneys can take to prevent the recurrence of communication problems.