Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13-10 Processing of Complaints by Bar Counsel

  1. Review. Bar Counsel shall review all Complaints. If, following review of a Complaint, Bar Counsel determines that the conduct questioned or alleged does not present an issue under the Disciplinary Rules, Bar Counsel shall not open an Investigation, and the Complaint shall be dismissed.
  2. No Dismissal by Complainant. No Complaint or allegation of Misconduct shall be dismissed at any stage of the process solely upon a request by a Complainant to withdraw his or her Complaint.
  3. Summary Resolution. Bar Counsel shall decide whether a Complaint is appropriate for an informal or abbreviated Investigation.  When a Complaint involves minor allegations of Misconduct susceptible to early resolution, Bar Counsel may assign the Complaint to a staff member, a District Committee member, or use any other means practicable to speedily investigate and resolve the allegations of Misconduct.  If the Complaint is resolved through this process, Bar Counsel shall then dismiss the Complaint.  Such dismissal shall not become a part of the Respondent’s Disciplinary Record.  If Bar Counsel chooses not to proceed under this subsection, or, having elected to proceed under this subsection, the Complaint is not resolved within 90 days from the date of filing, Bar Counsel shall proceed pursuant to the following subsections.
  4. Preliminary Investigation. A preliminary Investigation may consist of obtaining a response, in writing, from the Respondent to the Complaint and sharing the response, if any, with the Complainant, so the Complainant may have an opportunity to provide additional information.
  5. Disposition by Bar Counsel after Preliminary Investigation. Bar Counsel may conduct a preliminary Investigation of any Complaint to determine whether it should be referred to the District Committee. Bar Counsel shall not file a Complaint with a District Committee following a preliminary Investigation when, in Bar Counsel’s judgment:
    1. As a matter of law, the conduct questioned or alleged does not constitute Misconduct;
    2. The evidence available shows that the Respondent did not engage in the Misconduct questioned or alleged;
    3. There is no credible evidence to support any allegation of Misconduct by the Respondent; or
    4. The evidence available could not reasonably be expected to support any allegation of Misconduct under a clear and convincing evidentiary standard.
  6. Referral to District Committee. Bar Counsel shall notify the District Committee Chair that a Complaint has been referred to a District Committee for investigation. Thereafter, the Complaint shall be investigated and a report thereof made to a Subcommittee.
  7. Report to Subcommittee. When submitting an Investigative Report to the Subcommittee, Bar Counsel or Committee Counsel may also send a recommendation as to the appropriate disposition of the Complaint.

The amendments effective March 19, 2010, revised Paragraph 13-10 B. dealing with the use of the phrase "Charge of Misconduct" and rewrote Paragraph 13-10 C.

Updated: April 4, 2014