Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13-8 Bar Counsel

  1. Authority. Bar Counsel shall have the authority, to the extent provided in this Paragraph and subject to the general supervision of COLD, to:
    1. Initiate, investigate, present or prosecute Complaints or other proceedings before Subcommittees, District Committees, the Board and Circuit Courts. Bar Counsel may represent the Bar in matters pending in this Court. In the course of performing such functions, Bar Counsel shall act independently and exercise prosecutorial autonomy and discretion;
    2. Examine criminal history record information relating to any Attorney or former Attorney from any state or federal law enforcement agency;
    3. Examine financial books and records, once a Complaint has been filed, including, without limitation, any and all escrow accounts, trust accounts,estate accounts, fiduciary accounts and operating or other accounts, maintained by the Attorney, the Attorney’s law firm or any other third party organization by whom the Attorney is employed or with whom the Attorney is associated;
    4. Examine the accounts described in the preceding subparagraph A.3. at any time when Bar Counsel reasonably believes that such accounts may not be in compliance with the Disciplinary Rules. In every instance in which Bar Counsel initiates examination of accounts or issues any summons or subpoena in the conduct of an examination or an Investigation concerning accounts, other than on the basis of a Complaint against the Attorney, Bar Counsel shall file a written statement as part of the record setting forth the reasons supporting the belief that the accounts may not comply with the Disciplinary Rules. A copy of this written statement shall be served upon the Attorney who is the subject of the Investigation when an examination has begun or any summons or subpoena has been issued;
    5. Issue such summons for the attendance of witnesses and subpoenae for the production of documents necessary or material to any Investigation, District Committee or Board proceeding; and
    6. File a notice of noncompliance requesting the Board to suspend the Attorney’s License until such time as the Attorney fully complies with a subpoena issued by the Bar Counsel, a District Committee or the Board, for the production of trust account, estate account, fiduciary account, operating account or other records maintained by the Attorney or the Attorney’s law firm.
  2. Acting Bar Counsel. In the event of disqualification or recusal of Bar Counsel in any proceeding, the allegation of Misconduct shall be prosecuted by a District Committee member designated by the District Committee Chair if the Proceeding is before a District Committee, or by the Attorney General or his designee if the Proceeding is before the Board or a three-judge Circuit Court.


The amendments effective March 19, 2010, revised Paragraph 13 dealing with the use of the phrase "Charge of Misconduct".


Updated: November 25, 2019