How to Find if an Attorney Has Been Disciplined

Had an e-mail this morning from someone trying to find out whether an attorney had ever been disbarred or disciplined. I knew that most states, including mine, now publish this information on the Web. But finding it isn’t always easy.

Thus, I was happy to come across this FindLaw page, Researching Attorney Discipline. It provides links to the official lawyer look-up page for every state and the District of Columbia.

An alternative, unofficial source for this information is the lawyer-directory site Avvo. It provides disciplinary histories for the lawyers it lists.

I would start with the official source and use Avvo as a back up. From my quick review, it appeared that some of the states still do not publish disciplinary histories on the Web and others limit the time periods they cover (such as showing only the most recent 10 years). Where the official records are lacking, Avvo might have the information (although it derives its information from official sources).

Keep in mind that a lawyer could have been disciplined in any state in which he or she ever practiced. If you don’t know which state to search, Avvo is a good place to start, because you can search by lawyer name across all states.