What Is The True Mission Of A State Bar?
The California State Bar serves the people of California through careful oversight of the legal profession. Created by the California Assembly in 1927, the State Bar is a component of the California Supreme Court that licenses and regulates attorneys to protect the public from unscrupulous and fraudulent conduct by attorneys.
The State Bar develops and enforces professional guidelines to which attorneys must adhere or face discipline. The guidelines for attorneys are contained in the Rules of Professional Conduct but attorneys must also adhere to other regulations, rules, and laws. The State Bar actively investigates and prosecutes consumer complaints against lawyers and even those who provide legal services but are unauthorized to do so. It also provides the public with the resources necessary to file a complaint against an attorney.
The California State Bar licenses more than 250,000 attorneys. It investigates approximately 16,000 complaints of attorney misconduct annually and distributes over $78 million in grants to legal aid organizations.
The State Bar investigates complaints of attorney misconduct, and, when viable, prosecutes them in State Bar Court. Here, if an attorney is recommended for suspension or disbarment, this finding is forwarded to the Supreme Court for final approval. Disciplinary records are listed in an attorney’s public profile on the State Bar website as a resource and warning to potential clients. If criminal conduct is suspected, the State Bar may also refer the matter to a law enforcement agency for investigation and potential prosecution.
Many people engage in the unauthorized practice of law, which has a significant impact on immigrants and other vulnerable communities. The State Bar’s unauthorized practice of law unit conducts thorough investigations and works in close coordination with law enforcement for any allegation related to the unauthorized practice of law.
The State Bar of California’s mission is to protect the public and includes the primary functions of licensing, regulation and discipline of attorneys; the advancement of the ethical and competent practice of law; and support of efforts for greater access to, and inclusion in, the legal system.
In sum, the State Bar:
- Licenses attorneys and regulates the profession and practice of law in California
- Enforces Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys
- Disciplines attorneys who violate rules and laws
- Administers the California Bar Exam
- Advances access to justice
- Promotes diversity and inclusion in the legal system
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