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Attorney License Defense

Bar License Defense Lawyer Ready to Advocate for California Attorneys

If you are a California attorney who receives a letter requesting information from the State Bar, an inquiry letter or a Notice of Disciplinary Charges, there is a good chance you have questions about what to do and how to best respond. Your questions and concerns warrant a response from an attorney who understands the complexities associated with State Bar defense matters.

The Geller Firm is ready and able to work tirelessly on your behalf and contest any unsupported charges or allegations levied against you.

Issues that Can Lead to Action Against You by the California State Bar

Below is a list of some of the most common issues that lead to the California State Bar opening an investigation and potentially suspending or revoking your law license:

  • Convicted of a crime (e.g., drunk driving, failure to file tax returns, assault and battery, etc.)
  • Client complaints (e.g., claims of ineffective counsel or incompetence)
  • Moral turpitude
  • Trust fund violations
  • Ethical lapses
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Dependency problems involving alcohol or controlled substances

No Matter Your Licensing Issue, The Geller Firm Can Help

The Geller Firm is well-versed in handling all types of licensing issues in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, and Marin including issues that arise from the practice of law. Our law firm is ready and able to help with any of the following issues:

  • Accusations seeking Revocation and License Discipline
  • Applications for a Professional License
  • Denial of a Professional License
  • Investigations prior to the filing of an accusation
  • Petitions for Reinstatement of a Professional License
  • Representation in front of an Administrative Law Judge
  • Requests for Modification of Discipline

Criminal Convictions

If you are convicted of a crime and are tempted to just keep that information to yourself, it will do no good. Why? Because the California State Bar receives notices of criminal convictions and charges in accordance with California Business and Professions Code Sections 6101 and 6102. When the Bar receives notification of the conviction, it will typically open an investigation.

Other Types of Convictions

For other types of convictions, attorneys are required to self-report to the State Bar. The self-reporting requirement applies to the following types of convictions:

  • Indicted or charged with a felony
  • Felony conviction
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor that involves a client
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor that involves the practice of law
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor for a crime that involves moral turpitude, dishonesty or an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit a crime

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

It is important to note that an attorney convicted of a crime in California is required to report that conviction to the State Bar.  This requirement extends to crimes of “moral turpitude” (more on this topic below). Once the conviction is reported to the State Bar, it will likely lead to a formal review.

Crimes involving moral turpitude are crimes involving dishonesty or vile and shocking behavior. Examples of crimes of moral turpitude include the following:

  • Perjury
  • Mail fraud
  • Drug offenses
  • Murder
  • Theft

The purpose of looking at crimes involving moral turpitude allows the judge to determine whether you are fit to continue practicing law in the State of California.

I'm a Lawyer, So I Don't Need Representation

One of the most common mistakes made by California attorneys who are confronting potential punishment or license revocation from the California State Bar is thinking their experience as an attorney means they do not need to hire an attorney to defend them. Such thinking is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because the California State Bar's prosecutors are seasoned lawyers who will gleefully go up against pro per clients. Without an attorney defending you, the outcome is routinely not good.

Do I Really Need to Hire a Lawyer to Defend Me Against a Former Client Alleging I was Incompetent?

The short answer to this question is yes. The longer answer is that you owe it to yourself and your family to take all necessary steps to protect your law license so you can continue to make a living. A common mistake made by attorneys under investigation or review by the State Bar is not taking the situation seriously, or even outright dismissing the State Bar's actions. Do not make this mistake.

When it comes to client complaints and allegations of incompetence, you need to take the charges seriously and ensure your license (and good name) are not impacted by baseless claims.

It is important to remember that the California State Bar requires each and every attorney to act with competence by having the correct mental, emotional and physical ability to reasonably do the job along with the right learning and skill.

You would probably never advise clients to represent themselves in legal matters where much is at stake. Ultimately, if you fail to take your own advice and instead represent yourself, you may jeopardize your chances of retaining your license to practice law.

Understanding How a Bar Complaint is Filed Against You

When it comes to complaints, the process typically begins when a former client, other attorney, judge, or other individual files a complaint. In California, there is no fee to file. Once the compliant is filed, the State Bar of California will generally review the complaint and determine whether it warrants an investigation or not.

If an investigation occurs, the group will likely attempt to resolve the matter with the attorney or refer the matter to the State Bar Court for a disciplinary hearing. California is unique in that it is the only state that has its own court that focuses solely on attorney discipline matters. If the case moves forward, it will be referred to the Hearing Department, which is the trial level of the State Bar Court. Judges at this level would make recommendations to the Supreme Court for violations of Professional Conduct. If an attorney disagrees with the recommendation of the Hearing Department, they can take the matter to the appellate level which is the Review Department.

Ready to Stand Up and Fight for Your Professional License? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you are ready to take action to defend your professional license, now is the time to contact The Geller Firm. Why? Because Michael Geller and his legal team are passionate about defending professionals from disciplinary actions by various licensing boards. The Geller Firm is located in San Francisco and Lafayette. The firm is capable of providing top-notch professional license defense in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, and Marin.


We have earned back-to-back Avvo Clients’ Choice Awards in 2021 & 2022. We have also been selected by as one of the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Vallejo and Milpitas for 2023.