Receiving a disciplinary grievance complaint can be overwhelming and shocking. However, it is imperative that you take necessary action, including seeking legal counsel. The most important criteria for selecting an attorney to represent you should be experience. Simply put, there is no substitute for experience. There are many excellent attorneys in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, but only a small number can claim to have significant experience in the field. Due to the weight of the matter, you should always seek out a law firm with a wealth of experience in the realm of defending attorney grievance complaints before considering any other factor.
The second consideration should be to determine whether the general approach of the attorney or law firm in question is appropriate for the case at hand. In The Prince, Machiavelli suggested that history demonstrated that most leaders were in essence one-trick ponies. Assuming competence and experience, if a prince was naturally aggressive by nature and was fortunate enough to rule during a time and under circumstances favoring aggressive behavior, then the prince would be a good leader. Unfortunately, disaster could result if that same prince came to power during a time, and under circumstances, where aggressive behavior was not the best policy. In the context of an attorney grievance complaint, you want an attorney modeled after Machiavelli’s favorite type of prince. You want an attorney who knows when to be aggressive, and perhaps even combative, and when to be diplomatic. Taking a combative stance and launching aggressive and even personal attacks on Bar Counsel is typically counter-productive, and often serves only to make an appropriate disposition more difficult and costly to achieve. It certainly dramatically increases the chances that your name will be published in the Court of Appeals, win or lose.
An attorney that will fight hard and aggressively attack the legal and factual positions adopted by Bar Counsel where appropriate, will be trusted and respected by the Office of Bar Counsel. In contrast, , an attorney who cannot work diplomatically and cooperatively with the Office of Bar Counsel where that is clearly the best policy is almost certain to encounter more difficulty in achieving favorable and less costly resolutions. This is simply common sense and human nature.
The third thing the subject of a Bar complaint should consider is whether they are licensed in multiple jurisdictions. The ability to utilize the same attorney over multiple jurisdictions could save you a great deal of money and ensure consistent representation. In that same vein, a grievance that also implicates potentially criminal activities should be a consideration in your decision to hire a particular attorney. In these situations, having an attorney versed in the realm of criminal law, as well as attorney grievance cases, will greatly assist you in prioritizing defense efforts.
Finally, you should never forget that your malpractice insurance broker, as well as your malpractice insurance company, are great resources for seeking an attorney. Usually, these are the people most familiar with the track record and ability of the attorneys in the field. Why not trust the people and organizations who deal with these issues on an everyday basis? Remember, your broker and insurance company have a vested interest in seeing that you obtain the best representation possible.
If you get a letter from Bar Counsel, we suggest that you call Eccleston and Wolf, and we would be happy to share our vast experience in the field with you. No other firm has handled as many grievance matters as Eccleston and Wolf in the State of Maryland. The firm also routinely represents clients in disciplinary matters in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Why not talk to one of our partners before you make any final decision on the best attorney to represent you when your license and reputation are on the line?