Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13. Procedure for Disciplining, Suspending, and Disbarring Attorneys

Chart comparing sections of Paragraph 13 in effect prior to May 1, 2009, with sections of reformatted Paragraph 13 as effective May 1, 2009 (PDF file)
Paragraph 13 index (PDF file)






Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13
Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia


  • 13-1 Definitions
  • 13-2 Authority of the Courts
  • 13-3 General Administrative Authority of Council
  • 13-4 Establishment of District Committees
    A.  Creation of District Committees
    B.  Panel Quorum
    C.  Geographic Criteria
    D.  Term of Office
    E.  Qualifications of Members
    F.  Persons Ineligible for Appointment
    G.  Interim Vacancies
  • 13-5 Authority and Duties of COLD
  • 13-6 Disciplinary Board
  • A.  Appointment of Members
    B.  Persons Ineligible for Appointment
    C.  Term of Office
    D.  Meetings and Quorum
    E.  Roster
    F.  Jurisdiction
    G.  Additional Board Powers
    H.  Agreed Disposition
  • 13-7 District Committees
    A.  Powers
    B.  Creation of Subcommittees
    C.  Subcommittee Quorums
    D.  District Committee Jurisdiction
    E.  Limitation on Private Discipline
    F.  Venue
    G.  Preferred Venue
    H.  Objections to Venue
    I.  Complaints Referred to District Committee or Subcommittee
    J.  Service by an Attorney and Professional Relationship
    K.  Consent by Bar Counsel
    L.  Recusal or Disqualification of District Committee Members
  • 13-8 Bar Counsel
    A.  Authority
    B.  Acting Bar Counsel
  • 13-9 Clerk of the Disciplinary System
    A.  Current Dockets
    B.  Records Retention
    C.  File Destruction
    D.  Preservation of Determinations and Orders
    E.  Costs
    F.  Review of Costs Assessment
    G.  Public Notification of Sanctions
  • 13-10 Processing of Complaints by Bar Counsel
    A.  Review
    B.  No Dismissal by Complainant
    C.  Summary Resolution
    D.  Preliminary Investigation
    E.  Disposition by Bar Counsel after Preliminary Investigation
    F.  Referral to District Committee
    G.  Report to Subcommittee
  • 13-11 Limited Right to Discovery
  • 13-12 Substantial Compliance, Notice and Evidentiary Rulings, and Address Notification
    A.  Substantial Compliance
    B.  Time Deadlines
    C.  Service
    D.  Evidentiary Rulings
    E.  Rights of Counsel for Complainant or Witness
    F.  Notice of Impairment Evidence
    G. English Required
  • 13-13 Participation and Disqualification of Counsel
    A.  Attorney for Respondent
    B.  Signature Required by Respondent
    C.  Disqualification
  • 13-14 Disqualification of District Committee Member or Board Member
    A.  Personal or Financial Interest
    B.  Complaint Against a Member
    C.  Imposition of Discipline
    D.  Interpretation
    E.  Ineligibility
  • 13-15 Subcommittee Action
    A.  Referral
    B.  Other Actions
      1.  Dismiss
      2.  Impose an Admonition without Terms
      3.  Certify to the Disciplinary Board
      4.  Approve an Agreed Disposition
      5.  Set the Complaint for Hearing before the District Committee
    C.  Vote Required for Action
    D.  Report of the Subcommittee
    E.  Notice of Action of the Subcommittee
    F.  Procedure in All Terms Cases
    G.  Alternative Disposition for Public Reprimand with Terms
  • 13-16 District Committee Proceedings
    A.  Charge of Misconduct
    B.  Response by Respondent Required
    C.  Failure of Respondent to Respond
    D.  Pre-Hearing Orders
    E.  Subpoenae, Summonses and Counsel
    F.  Continuances
    G.  Public Hearings
    H.  Public Docket
    I.  Oral Testimony and Exhibits
    J.  Opening Remarks by the Chair
    K.  Motion to Exclude Witness
    L.  Presentation of the Bar’s Evidence
    M.  Presentation of the Respondent’s Evidence
    N. No Participation by Other Counsel
    O.  Depositions
    P.  Testimony by Videoconferencing and Telephone
    Q.  Admissibility of Evidence
    R.  Motion to Strike
    S.  Argument
    T.  Deliberations
    U.  Change in District Committee Composition
    V.  Show Cause for Compliance with Terms
    W.  Dismissal
    X.  Sanctions
    Y.  District Committee Determination
    Z.  Notices
    AA. District Committee Determination Finality and Public Statement
    BB. Enforcement of Terms
    CC. Alternative Disposition and Procedure for Public Reprimand with Terms
    DD. Reconsideration of Action by the District Committee
  • 13-17 Perfecting an Appeal of a District Committee Determination by the Respondent
    A.  Notice of Appeal; Demand
    B.  Staying of Discipline
    C.  Filing the Transcript and Record on Appeal
    D.  Appeal to a Circuit Court
    E.  Appeal from Agreed Sanction Prohibited
  • 13-18 Board Proceedings Upon Certification
    A.  Filing by Respondent
    B.  No Filing by Respondent
    C.  Notice of Hearing
    D.  Expedited Hearings
    E.  Pre-Hearing Orders
    F.  Continuance of a Hearing
    G.  Preliminary Explanation
    H.  Attendance at Hearing
    I.  Order of Hearing
    J.  Motion to Strike
    K.  Deliberations
    L.  Dismissal for Failure of the Evidence
    M.  Disposition Upon a Finding of Misconduct
    N.  Dismissal for Failure to Reach a Majority Decision
    O.  Enforcement of Terms
    P.  Orders, Findings and Opinions
    Q.  Change in Composition of Board Hearing Panel
    R.  Reconsideration of Board Action
  • 13-19 Board Proceedings Upon Appeal
    A.  Docketing An Appeal
    B.  Notice to the Appellant
    C.  Record on Appeal
    D.  Briefing
    E.  Standard of Review
    F.  Oral Argument
    G.  Imposition of Sanctions
  • 13-20 Board Proceedings Upon Certification for Sanction Determination
    A.  Initiation of Proceedings
    B.  Proceedings Upon the Record
    C.  Evidence
    D.  Argument
    E.  Sanctions
  • 13-21 Board Proceedings Upon a First Offender Plea
    A.  Action Upon Receipt of Notification
    B.  Burden of Proof
    C.  Demand for Three Judge Court
    D.  Attorney Compliance with Notice Requirements
  • 13-22 Board Proceedings Upon a Guilty Plea or an Adjudication of a Crime
    A.  Action Upon Receipt of Notification
    B.  Time of Hearing, Continuance and Interim Hearing
    C.  Reversal of Conviction
    D.  Burden of Proof
    E.  Action by the Board and Notice to Respondent
    F.  Procedure

Updated: June 11, 2019