Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13. Procedure for Disciplining, Suspending, and Disbarring Attorneys

Download or print Paragraph 13 with index (pdf)
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)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

13-1 Definitions

13-1.1 Burden of Proof

13-2 Authority of the Courts

13-3 General Administrative Authority of Council

13-4 Establishment of District Committees

  1. Creation of District Committees
  2. Panel Quorum
  3. Geographic Criteria
  4. Term of Office
  5. Qualifications of Members
  6. Persons Ineligible for Appointment
  7. Interim Vacancies

13-5 Authority and Duties of COLD

13-6 Disciplinary Board

  1. Appointment of Members
  2. Persons Ineligible for Appointment
  3. Term of Office
  4. Meetings and Quorum
  5. Roster
  6. Jurisdiction
  7. Additional Board Powers
  8. Agreed Disposition

13-7 District Committees

  1. Powers
  2. Creation of Subcommittees
  3. Subcommittee Quorums
  4. District Committee Jurisdiction
  5. Limitation on Private Discipline
  6. Venue
  7. Preferred Venue
  8. Objections to Venue
  9. Complaints Referred to District Committee or Subcommittee
  10. Service by a Member of the Bar and Professional Relationship
  11. Consent by Bar Counsel
  12. Recusal or Disqualification of District Committee Members

13-8 Bar Counsel

  1. Authority
  2. Acting Bar Counsel

13-9 Clerk of the Disciplinary System

  1. Current Dockets
  2. Records Retention
  3. File Destruction
  4. Preservation of Determinations and Orders
  5. Costs
  6. Review of Costs Assessment
  7. Public Notification of Sanctions

13-10 Processing of Complaints by Bar Counsel

  1. Review
  2. No Dismissal by Complainant
  3. Summary Resolution
  4. Preliminary Investigation
  5. Disposition by Bar Counsel after Preliminary Investigation
  6. Referral to District Committee
  7. Report to Subcommittee

13-11 Limited Right to Discovery

13-12 Substantial Compliance, Notice and Evidentiary Rulings, and Address Notification

  1. Substantial Compliance
  2. Time Deadlines
  3. Service
  4. Evidentiary Rulings
  5. Rights of Counsel for Complainant or Witness
  6. Notice of Impairment Evidence
  7. English Required

13-13 Participation and Disqualification of Counsel

  1. Attorney for Respondent
  2. Signature Required by Respondent
  3. Disqualification

13-14 Disqualification of District Committee Member or Board Member

  1. Personal or Financial Interest
  2. Complaint Against a Member
  3. Imposition of Discipline
  4. Interpretation
  5. Ineligibility

13-15 Subcommittee Action

  1. Referral
  2. Other Actions
    1. Dismiss
    2. Impose an Admonition without Terms
    3. Certify to the Board
    4. Approve an Agreed Disposition
    5. Set the Complaint for Hearing before the District Committee
  3. Vote Required for Action
  4. Report of the Subcommittee
  5. Notice of Action of the Subcommittee
  6. Procedure in All Terms Cases
  7. Alternative Disposition for Public Reprimand with Terms

13-16 District Committee Proceedings

  1. Charge of Misconduct
  2. Response by Respondent Required
  3. Failure of Respondent to Respond
  4. Pre-Hearing Orders
  5. Subpoenae, Summonses and Counsel
  6. Continuances
  7. Public Hearings
  8. Public Docket
  9. Oral Testimony and Exhibits
  10. Opening Remarks by the Chair
  11. Motion to Exclude Witnesses
  12. Presentation of the Bar’s Evidence
  13. Presentation of the Respondent’s Evidence
  14. No Participation by Other Counsel
  15. Depositions
  16. Testimony by Videoconferencing and Telephone
  17. Admissibility of Evidence
  18. Motion to Strike
  19. Argument
  20. Deliberations
  21. Change in District Committee Composition
  22. Show Cause for Compliance with Terms
  23. Dismissal
  24. Sanctions
  25. Summary Orders and District Committee Determinations
  26. Notices 
  • AA.District Committee Determination Finality
  • 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

  1. Notice of Appeal; Demand
  2. Staying of Discipline
  3. Filing the Transcript and Record on Appeal
  4. Appeal to a Circuit Court
  5. Appeal from Agreed Sanction Prohibited

13-18 Board Proceedings Upon Certification

  1. Filing by Respondent
  2. No Filing by Respondent
  3. Notice of Hearing 
  4. Expedited Hearings
  5. Pre-Hearing Orders
  6. Continuance of a Hearing
  7. Preliminary Explanation
  8. Attendance at Hearing
  9. Order of Hearing
  10. Motion to Strike
  11. Deliberations
  12. Dismissal for Failure of the Evidence
  13. Disposition Upon a Finding of Misconduct
  14. Dismissal for Failure to Reach a Majority Decision
  15. Enforcement of Terms
  16. Orders, Findings and Opinions
  17. Change in Composition of Board Hearing Panel
  18. Reconsideration of Board Action

13-19 Board Proceedings Upon Appeal

  1. Docketing An Appeal
  2. Notice to the Appellant
  3. Record on Appeal
  4. Briefing
  5. Standard of Review
  6. Oral Argument
  7. Imposition of Sanctions

13-20 Board Proceedings Upon Certification for Sanction Determination

  1. Initiation of Proceedings
  2. Proceedings Upon the Record
  3. Evidence
  4. Argument
  5. Sanctions

13-21 Board Proceedings Upon a First Offender Plea

  1. Action Upon Receipt of Notification
  2. Burden of Proof
  3. Demand for Three Judge Court
  4. Attorney Compliance with Notice Requirements

13-22 Board Proceedings Upon a Guilty Plea or an Adjudication of a Crime

  1. Action Upon Receipt of Notification
  2. Time of Hearing, Continuance and Interim Hearing
  3. Reversal of Conviction
  4. Burden of Proof
  5. Action by the Board and Notice to Respondent
  6. Procedure

13-23 Board Proceedings Upon Impairment

  1. Suspension for Impairment
  2. Burden of Proof
  3. Investigation
  4. Summary Suspension
  5. Action by Board after a Hearing
  6. Procedure
  7. Guardian Ad Litem
  8. Examination
  9. Termination of Suspension
  10. Enforcement
  11. Transfer of Membership Status

13-24 Board Proceedings Upon Disbarment, Revocation or Suspension in Another Jurisdiction

  1. Definitions Specific to Paragraph 13-24
  2. Initiation of Proceedings
  3. Opportunity for Response
  4. Scheduling and Continuance of Hearing
  5. Provision of Copies
  6. Hearing Procedures
  7. Burden of Proof 
  8. Action by the Board

13-25 Board Proceedings for Reinstatement

  1. Waiver of Confidentiality
  2. Investigation of Impairment in Reinstatement Matters
  3. Readmission After Resignation
  4. Reinstatement After Disciplinary Suspension for More than One Year
  5. Petition for Reinstatement After Revocation
  6. Threshold Requirements for Reinstatement After Revocation
  7. Reinstatement Proceedings After a Revocation

13-26 Appeal from Board Determinations

  1. Right of Appeal
  2. Determination
  3. Office of the Attorney General

13-27 Resignation

  1. Application
  2. Procedure
  3. When Not Permitted

13-28 Consent to Revocation

  1. When Permitted
  2. Admissions
  3. Procedure
  4. Attorney Action Required upon Revocation
  5. Dismissal of Complaints or Allegations of Misconduct

13-29 Duties of Disbarred or Suspended Respondent

13-30 Confidentiality of Disciplinary Records and Proceedings

  1. Confidential Matters
  2. Timing of Disclosure of Disciplinary Record in Review of Agreed Dispositions and Sanctions Proceedings
  3. Timing of Public Access to Disciplinary Information
  4. Public Statements Concerning Disciplinary Information
  5. Protection of the Public
  6. Disclosure to Other Jurisdictions
  7. Disclosure of Criminal Activity
  8. Disclosure of Information to Government Entities
  9. Waiver of Confidentiality
  10. Testimony about Disciplinary Proceedings
  11. Records of the Disciplinary System
  12. Virginia Lawyer Referral Service
  13. Disclosure of Information to Lawyer Assistance Program

13-31 Dismissal of Complaints and Allegations of Misconduct Upon Revocation Without Consent, or Upon Death

Updated: July 15, 2021