Lawyer regulation

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Filing a grievance

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The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) receives grievances against attorneys who are licensed to practice law or are practicing law in the State of Wisconsin. For contact information regarding lawyer disciplinary agencies in other states, go to http://www.abanet.org/cpr/disciplinary.html (external link).

Grievances may be filed against individual attorneys, not law firms. Grievances filed by one person against multiple attorneys will be handled separately. To preserve confidentiality, do not refer to the alleged misconduct of one attorney in a grievance concerning another attorney.

Please see the pamphlet "Attorney grievances" Adobe PDF for additional information.

Instructions for filing a grievance

Grievances may be filed by telephone, mail, or email.

To file by telephone: Call (608) 267-7274 or (877) 315-6941 (toll free), and choose option 1 to file your grievance.

To submit a written grievance: Grievances can be sent in the form of a letter, or by completing the grievance form below. The grievance form can be printed and completed by hand, or typed on the form using Adobe Acrobat printed. When typing in the form be sure to print it out before exiting or your work will be lost. Sign and date the form, then mail it to: Office of Lawyer Regulation, 110 East Main Street, Suite 315, P.O. Box 1648, Madison, WI 53701-1648

To email a grievance: A completed form can be emailed by saving the form, or by printing and scanning the form. Email the form and any additional documents to olr.intake@wicourts.gov. (Note: You must have the full version of Adobe Acrobat to be able to save the form or any information inserted in the form.)

Form and filing tips

Grievance form PDF

  • If you are having difficulty opening the form in Chrome, please try using a different browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox) or download the form to your computer and open it with a PDF reader (e.g., Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader).
  • The easiest way to move from section to section of the form on-line is to use the TAB key on your keyboard.
  • If there is not sufficient space within the form to fill in all the information you wish to submit, you may complete and print additional sheets with your own word processing program and attach those sheets to the grievance form.
  • The online form is two pages long. If you are completing it online, after filling in the Statement of Facts on page 1, please scroll down and complete page 2.
  • You are encouraged to submit copies of any additional documents with your grievance that will help us to better understand your complaint.
  • Sign and date the form, then mail it to:
    Office of Lawyer Regulation
    110 East Main Street, Suite 315
    P.O. Box 1648
    Madison, WI 53701-1648

    Or email it to: olr.intake@wicourts.gov

For questions, please call (608) 267-7274 or (877) 315-6941 (toll free), and choose option 1.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Can the Office of Lawyer Regulation help me settle a dispute about the amount of my attorney's bill?

No. Fee disputes usually do not involve issues of professional misconduct. The State Bar of Wisconsin has a Committee on the Resolution of Fee Disputes which may be of assistance to you. You may write the Fee Arbitration Administrator, State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7158 or phone (800) 444-9404, ext. 6624. For more information on fee arbitration, visit the State Bar's website (external link).

Q. What happens after a grievance is filed?

Upon receiving a grievance, the Office of Lawyer Regulation conducts a preliminary evaluation. The results of that evaluation may include: 1) forwarding the matter to another agency, 2) reconciling a minor dispute, 3) closing the matter because it does not present sufficient information to support a potential ethical violation, or 4) referral for formal investigation, diversion to an alternative to discipline program, or resolution by a consent reprimand.

Matters referred for formal investigation are assigned to a grievance investigator. The investigator will seek all relevant information regarding the allegations, whether inculpatory or exculpatory. Upon completion, the Director may: 1) dismiss the matter due to a lack of sufficient evidence, 2) divert the matter to an alternative to discipline program, 3) seek the respondent attorney's consent to a private or public reprimand, or 4) present the matter to the Preliminary Review Committee for a determination of cause to proceed. In cases of serious misconduct or cases where the attorney will not consent to a reprimand, the Director must present the results of the investigation to the Preliminary Review Committee to obtain approval to file a disciplinary complaint against the attorney.

When the Preliminary Review Committee finds cause to proceed, the Director may seek consent to a private or public reprimand, divert the matter to an alternatives to discipline program, or file a complaint with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may revoke or suspend a license, reprimand an attorney publicly or privately, impose conditions upon an attorney's practice, or order a monetary payment (usually for the purpose of restitution).

Q. How long does the grievance process take?

In some cases, it may take as little as 30 to 90 days. In other more involved, complicated cases, it may take as long as one to two years. Our goal is to complete all grievance investigations within one year.

Q. Can I find out if an attorney has had grievances filed against him/her?

No. The Office of Lawyer Regulation may disclose records of public discipline, and records of formal complaints filed against the attorney in the Supreme Court. Public information is available by contacting the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Q. Can I find out if an attorney has been disciplined?

Yes, but only public discipline. You can find out if an attorney has been publicly reprimanded, suspended, disbarred or had conditions imposed upon the continued practice of law by contacting the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Q. Can the Office of Lawyer Regulation refer me to an attorney?

No. However, the State Bar of Wisconsin has a Lawyer Referral and Information Service. The phone number for Madison callers is (608) 257-4666. Statewide callers can call (800) 362-9082. Or you can visit their website (external link).

Q. Who can I contact if I have questions about the disciplinary process?

You can contact the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Q. Can the Office of Lawyer Regulation give me legal advice?

No. Supreme Court rule 22.02(5) says OLR staff may not give legal advice.