I hired a lawyer to help me with my divorce and while he was working on my case, he asked to borrow $10,000. I felt pressured to loan it to him, so I did. It has been 2 years, and he told me he has no intention of paying it back. I feel he was dishonest. How can I get his license revoked so he can’t do this to someone else?


Sorry to hear about your situation. Protecting California’s consumers is one of the primary missions of The State Bar of California . The State Bar has a limited authority to address unethical behaviors by attorneys as defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. Licensed attorneys are bound to follow these rules if they want to remain in good standing and continue to practice law. According to the State Bar website, the” Attorney Discipline System, which takes complaints against attorneys from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified”.

To lodge a complaint against an attorney you must mail the complaint form to the address indicated on the form. Depending on the type of offense, the penalties will vary from a warning or being unable to practice law in California.

In an effort to help recover funds lost by dishonest conduct of attorneys, The State Bar sponsored the creation of the Client Security Fund as a public service of the California legal profession. The amount the fund may reimburse for theft committed by a California lawyer depends on when the loss occurred.

The types of dishonest conduct that may lead to reimbursement from the fund are:

  • Theft or embezzlement of money or the wrongful taking or conversion of money or property;
  • Failure to refund unearned attorney fees paid to the lawyer in advance where the lawyer performed no services, or an insignificant portion of the services;
  • The borrowing of money from a client without the intention or reasonably anticipated ability to repay the money;
  • Obtaining money or property from a client by representing that it would be used for investment purposes when no investment is made; and
  • An act of intentional dishonesty or deceit that directly leads to the loss of money or property that actually came into the lawyer’s possession.

Check out the State Bar website for more detailed information about getting reimbursed through the Client Security Fund.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian