Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13-15 Subcommittee Action

  1. Referral. Following receipt of the report of Investigation and Bar Counsel’s recommendation, the Subcommittee may refer the matter to Bar Counsel for further Investigation.
  2. Other Actions. Once the Investigation is complete to the Subcommittee’s satisfaction, it will take one of the following actions.
    1. Dismiss. It shall dismiss the Complaint when:
      1. As a matter of law the conduct questioned or alleged does not constitute Misconduct; or
      2. The evidence available shows that the Respondent did not engage in the Misconduct questioned or alleged, or there is no credible evidence to support any allegation of Misconduct by Respondent, or the evidence available could not reasonably be expected to support any allegation of Misconduct under a clear and convincing evidentiary standard; or
      3. The evidence available shows that the conduct questioned or alleged was de minimis, there is little or no injury to any of the following: a client, the public, the legal system or profession, and there is no or very little likelihood of repetition by the Respondent; or
      4. There exist exceptional circumstances mitigating against further proceedings, which circumstances shall be set forth in writing, unless they relate to Respondent’s health or other information that the Subcommittee determines should remain confidential; or
      5. The action alleged to be Misconduct is protected by superseding law.
      In dismissing cases under Paragraph 13-15.B.1.c. or d., the Subcommittee shall have access to Respondent’s prior Disciplinary Record and any prior dismissals issued pursuant to Paragraph 13-15.B.1.c. or d.  When any Respondent has received a dismissal under Paragraph 13-15.B.1.c. or d. during the ten-year period immediately preceding the Bar’s receipt of the oldest Complaint that the Subcommittee is considering, it shall be presumed that another dismissal on the same basis is not an appropriate disposition, unless there are sufficient facts and circumstances to rebut such presumption.
    2. Impose an Admonition without Terms. In making this determination, the Subcommittee shall have access to Respondent's prior Disciplinary Record. Respondent, within ten days after the issuance of an Admonition without Terms, may request a hearing before the District Committee.
    3. Certify to the Board. Certify the Complaint to the Board pursuant to this Paragraph or file a complaint in a Circuit Court, pursuant to Va. Code § 54.1-3935. Certification shall be based on a reasonable belief that the Respondent has engaged or is engaging in Misconduct that, if proved, would justify a Suspension or Revocation. In making this determination, the Subcommittee shall have access to Respondent’s prior Disciplinary Record.
    4. Approve an Agreed Disposition. Approve an Agreed Disposition imposing one of the following conditions or sanctions:
      1. Admonition, with or without Terms; or
      2. Private Reprimand, with or without Terms; or
      3. Public Reprimand, with or without Terms.
    5. Set the Complaint for Hearing before the District Committee. In making this determination, the Subcommittee shall have access to Respondent’s prior Disciplinary Record.
  3. Vote Required for Action. All actions taken by Subcommittees, except for approval of Agreed Dispositions, shall be by majority vote.
  4. Report of the Subcommittee. All decisions of the Subcommittee shall be reported to the District Committee in a timely fashion.
  5. Notice of Action of the Subcommittee. If a Subcommittee has dismissed the Complaint, the Chair shall promptly provide written notice to the Complainant, the Respondent and Bar Counsel of such Dismissal and the factual and legal basis therefor.  If a Subcommittee determines to issue an Admonition with or without Terms, or a Private or Public Reprimand with or without Terms, the Chair shall promptly send the Complainant, the Respondent and Bar Counsel a copy of the Subcommittee’s determination.  If a Subcommittee elects to certify a Complaint to the Board, the Subcommittee Chair shall promptly mail a copy of the Certification to the Clerk, Bar Counsel, the Respondent and the Complainant.
  6. Procedure in All Terms Cases. If a Subcommittee imposes Terms, the Subcommittee shall specify the time period within which compliance with the Terms shall be completed. If Terms have been imposed against a Respondent, that Respondent shall deliver a certification of compliance with such Terms to Bar Counsel within the time period specified by the Subcommittee. If a Subcommittee issues an Admonition with Terms, a Private Reprimand with Terms, or a Public Reprimand with Terms based on an Agreed Disposition, the Agreed Disposition shall specify the alternative disposition to be imposed if the Terms are not complied with or if the Respondent does not certify compliance with Terms to Bar Counsel. If the Respondent does not comply with the Terms imposed or does not certify compliance with Terms to Bar Counsel within the time period specified, Bar Counsel shall serve notice requiring the Respondent to show cause why the alternative disposition should not be imposed. Such show cause proceeding shall be set for hearing before the District Committee at its next available hearing date as determined in the discretion of the District Committee Chair. The burden of proof shall be on the Respondent to show timely compliance and timely certification by clear and convincing evidence. If the District Committee determines that the Respondent failed to comply with the Terms or failed to certify compliance within the stated time period, the alternative disposition shall be imposed. Bar Counsel shall be responsible for monitoring compliance with Terms and reporting any noncompliance to the District Committee.
  7. Alternative Disposition for Public Reprimand with Terms. The alternative disposition for a Public Reprimand with Terms shall be a Certification For Sanction Determination unless the Respondent has entered into an Agreed Disposition for the imposition of an alternative disposition of a specific period of Suspension of License.


The amendments effective December 1, 2019revised Paragraph 13-15 to clarify and simplify language.

Updated: November 25, 2019