Defense Attorneys for State Bar Matters
We regularly represent attorneys and other clients in various different types of proceedings before the North Carolina State Bar. We are the only law firm in North Carolina that has attorneys who have the unique perspective of both prosecuting and defending attorneys before the State Bar. Our attorneys who represent the firm’s clients before the State Bar include: Doug Brocker, formerly Trial Counsel and a Special Prosecutor for the State Bar; Deanna Brocker formerly Assistant Ethics Counsel to the State Bar; and Brooke Ottesen; and Crystal Carlisle.
For example, our attorneys regularly represent and defend attorneys who receive a grievance from the State Bar. If an attorney receives a letter of notice and substance of grievance, he or she will have 15 days to provide a written response to the State Bar. This written response generally is the only opportunity an attorney has to tell his or her side of the story in the grievance process. The staff counsel reviews the information provided, conducts additional investigation if necessary and makes a recommendation to the Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee deliberates in a closed session and determines whether there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred and, if so, it can impose certain levels of discipline.
In serious cases, the Grievance Committee refers a matter to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) for a full evidentiary hearing or trial. We regularly defend attorneys in formal complaints and hearings before the DHC, and several of our attorneys formerly prosecuted those cases for the Bar. Generally, matters where the Grievance Committee believes suspension or disbarment is warranted are referred to the DHC. The DHC process is like a very condensed civil case ending with a formal evidentiary hearing or trial. In the typical DHC matter, a complaint and answer are filed, discovery is conducted, depositions are taken, motions are made, pretrial conferences are held, witnesses and exhibits must be prepared, culminating in a two-phase hearing all generally occurring within six months. The formal evidentiary hearing or trial typically lasts between one and three days. Doug Brocker has tried numerous cases before the DHC spanning several decades collectively.
We regularly represent attorneys with inquiries before the State Bar Ethics Committee and will advocate on the attorney’s behalf. We routinely provide ethics counseling and review attorney advertising to assess its compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Deanna Brocker, who was Assistant Ethics Counsel for over ten years, primarily assists the firm’s clients in these matters.
We routinely defend persons and entities against allegations of unauthorized practice of law. We assist in providing a response to the Authorized Practice Committee of the State Bar, advise our clients, and attend and present oral argument at the Committee meeting if necessary. Doug Brocker, who was formerly counsel to the Authorized Practice Committee, represents the firm’s clients in these matters.
We also represent attorneys in various other types of proceedings before the State Bar. For example, our firm represents, advises and assists attorneys:
- in responding to and defending Fee Dispute Petitions filed by clients;
- with matters pending before the State Bar Administrative Committee, such as administrative suspensions for failure to pay dues and fees or noncompliance with CLE requirements;
- who receive letters from the State Bar concerning non-sufficient funds (NSF) notices received from the bank concerning the attorneys trust account;
- who have been selected by the State Bar for a random trust account audit; and
- in disability proceedings before the State Bar.
To review a more detailed explanation of the State Bar process, click here.
For ePublications on legal ethics click here.
For out-of-state attorneys seeking comity in North Carolina, view the section on Law Applicants