In 2003, the State Bar changed the Rules regarding the filing of grievance complaints. Budget cuts drove the changes in the grievance process, but the overall result is that there are steps in place to prevent the grievance accusation from going unjustly too far. The State Bar act was amended to eliminate investigatory hearings that were held for every filed complaint that alleged misconduct. Now, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC) only classifies and investigates a grievance as a complaint if the complaint actually states a form or type of professional misconduct.
In addition, many attorneys are able to resolve disputes before a grievance accusation is filed using the State Bar’s Client-Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP). Launched in 1999, this program helps clients understand a situation better and diffuse an unnecessary accusation. The result of these changes has actually reduced the number of grievance filings. This is good news for attorneys because you don’t have to respond to each and every inquiry filed with the State Bar. “Inquiries” continue to far exceed the number of actionable complaints.