Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel

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Missouri Attorney Discipline System

 The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is an agency of the Missouri Supreme Court and is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by lawyers, prosecuting the cases where a lawyer’s misconduct poses a threat to the public or to the integrity of the legal profession, and maintaining current records of disciplinary information for lawyers licensed to practice law in Missouri.

When lawyers enter the practice of law in Missouri, they obligate themselves to uphold the law and to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct governing members of The Missouri Bar. The purpose of attorney discipline is to protect the public and the administration of justice from attorneys who have not discharged their professional duties to clients, the public, the legal system, and the legal profession. The professional conduct of attorneys is governed by Supreme Court Rule 4 and the discipline process is governed by Supreme Court Rule 5.


News & Announcements

OCDC Article: Ethics: Reporting Lawyer Misconduct to OCDC
Many lawyers are reluctant to report their peers to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel ("OCDC") for violations of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct. Under certain circumstances, however, practitioners have a mandatory duty to report. Rule 4-8.3 provides... More...
Published: May 1, 2018

OCDC Article: Ethics: Reprimand, Probation, Suspension or Disbarment? (How the OCDC Arrives at a Sanction Recommendation)
When the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC) or a Regional Disciplinary Committee believes that a Missouri lawyer has violated a Rule of Professional Conduct, the OCDC has several options. In a few cases, the lawyer is given an opportunity for diversion. In the large majority of cases, the OCDC issues admonitions, which lawyers may accept or reject... More...
Published: Mar 1, 2018

OCDC Article: Responding to a Subpoena for Confidential Client Information
Trust is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship.[2] Foundational to this trust is the assurance that a lawyer will not reveal information related to the representation of a client without the informed consent of the client or unless the confidentiality rule authorizes disclosure. More...
Published: Jan 1, 2018

OCDC Article: Updated Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct Effective September 26, 2017: What You Need to Know
As the practice of law evolves with each new piece of technology, and our Missouri-based world is impacted more and more by global legal issues, our Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct are adjusted to address these changes. On September 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued an Order... More...
Published: Sep 26, 2017

OCDC Article: New Rule 5.28 - Reinstatements: An Overview of the New Requirements
The Chief Disciplinary Counsel is appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri to serve as counsel in disciplinary hearings and to conduct investigations as provided by Supreme Court Rule 5.[2] An investigation may result in the matter being presented to the Supreme Court of Missouri for a final order of discipline. If the Court finds that professional misconduct occurred, it will impose appropriate discipline. The discipline imposed may result in an order of suspension or disbarment of a lawyer. More...
Published: Sep 1, 2017

OCDC Article: Recently Published Missouri Informal Advisory Opinions
Informal advisory opinions are issued by the Legal Ethics Counsel pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30. The Legal Ethics Counsel issues opinions to members of the bar about Rules 4, 5 and 6 for prospective guidance about an attorney's own conduct involving an existing set of facts. Informal advisory opinions will not be issued about past conduct, hypothetical scenarios, or the conduct of an attorney other than the one asking for the opinion... More...
Published: Jul 1, 2017

OCDC Article: Admonitions: Examples of Minor Misconduct
An admonition is the lowest sanction in the disciplinary process set forth in Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5. It does not restrict a lawyer's ability to practice law. Pursuant to Missouri Rule 5.31(b), an admonition is considered a public document and a permanent part of the lawyer's record available to the public... More...
Published: May 1, 2017

OCDC Article: The Ethics of Client Trust Accounts: Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most frequently asked questions of the Legal Ethics Counsel office focus on how to comply with ethical obligations related to handling client trust accounts. Lawyers are often wary of making a misstep with their client trust accounts, but by instituting sound accounting practices within their offices in accordance with Rules 4-1.145 - 4-1.155, lawyers should be able to readily comply with their safekeeping obligations... More...
Published: Mar 1, 2017

OCDC Article: Planning Ahead: Why You May Want to Designate a Trustee Pursuant to Amended Rule 5.26
It can be difficult to imagine that an accident, disability, or even untimely death may leave you unable to continue in your law practice. However, in the year 2016, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel undertook approximately 10 matters wherein the attorney in question was incapacitated and it was necessary to seek the appointment of a trustee to protect the clients’ interests... More...
Published: Jan 1, 2017

OCDC Article: Shoptalk - Be Careful What You Say
Rule 4-1.6 addresses the confidentiality of client information. The basic premise of Rule 4-1.6 is that an attorney should not reveal information relating to the representation of a client, unless the client consents to the disclosure or the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation.[1] On its face the rule seems pretty simple but on closer examination it contains several pitfalls for unknowing attorneys. More...
Published: Dec 1, 2016

OCDC Article: Getting By - With a Little Help from Our Friends
Lawyers often lean on each other; they often ask other lawyers to serve as local counsel or for second opinions. Many take bigger steps, setting up joint representations as co-counsel. Some lawyers even advertise their practice by focusing on other lawyers as much as to the public. Those lawyers hope they have earned a professional and collegial reputation among their peers, especially in complex practice areas. More...
Published: Oct 14, 2016

OCDC Article: OCDC, Complaints and Yogi
What can lawyers learn from the wisdom of Lawrence Peter Berra, better known as Yogi Berra? Mr. Berra was one of the best known catchers to play the game of baseball. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, but is also well known for quotes that have been attributed to him. Yogi Berra: You got to be very careful if you don�t know where you are going because you might not get there.[1] More...
Published: Oct 1, 2015

OCDC Article: Joint Representation: Analysis Required
Two or more parties in the same matter sometimes seek to hire a single lawyer. Shared counsel can save money on legal fees, decrease the duplication of efforts, and serve to present a united front to the opposition. Joint representation also, however, presents risks to, and may impose disadvantages on, those same clients. More...
Published: Jul 1, 2015

Our new address is 3327 American Ave., Jefferson City, MO 65109-1016. More...
Published: Jul 1, 2015

OCDC Article: Ethical Pitfalls When Seeking Past Due Payments from a Client
Most private practice attorneys have faced the dilemma of what to do when a client fails to pay. Initiating collection actions can lead to ethical problems for the attorney if the attorney is not exceedingly careful. More...
Published: Apr 1, 2015

OCDC Article: Admonitions: Examples of Minor Misconduct
An admonition is the lowest disciplinary sanction in the disciplinary process set forth in Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5. More...
Published: Feb 1, 2015

OCDC Article: Little White Lies
I am currently working on a case where the attorney in question is facing a possible disbarment for multiple instances of lying to his clients. More...
Published: Nov 9, 2014

OCDC Article: Conflict of Interest: Do You Know One When You See One?
Conflicts are complicated... More...
Published: Aug 1, 2014

OCDC Article: Corked Bats, Spitballs and Excessive Pine Tar (Ethical Issues in Baseball and the Law)
"Well, it´s our game; that´s the chief fact in connection with it; America´s game; it has the snap, go and fling of the American atmosphere... More...
Published: Jun 9, 2014

OCDC Article: Considerations for Lawyers Acting in a Non-Professional Capacity
Lawyers licensed to practice law in Missouri understand that violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct will subject them to possible disciplinary action. Discipline that may be imposed includes... More...
Published: Feb 1, 2014

OCDC Article: "You´re Charging Me for Text Messages?" Communication Should Begin with Your Representation Agreement.
"You´re charging me for text messages?" Communication Should Begin With Your Representation Agreement... More...
Published: Nov 1, 2013

OCDC Article: Admonitions: A Primer With Examples
An admonition is the lowest disciplinary sanction in the disciplinary process set forth in Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5. It does not restrict a lawyer´s ability to practice law... More...
Published: Jul 2, 2013

OCDC Article: Clients with Diminished Capacity *NEW*
Along with coming to grips with the graying of our profession, attorneys must be alert to the fact that the general population, i.e., our clients, are aging right along with baby boomer lawyers. More...
Published: Mar 11, 2013

NEWS: Increased Transparency in Lawyer Discipline
New court rule will make the Missouri attorney discipline process and records more open to the public... More...
Published: Jun 25, 2012

OCDC Article: What's Trending in Legal Discipline? Transparency
On July 1, 2012, the Missouri attorney discipline system will follow the lead of forty other states and other Missouri licensed professions when Supreme Court Rule 5.31 increases transparency in the attorney discipline process. More...
Published: May 1, 2012

OCDC Article: Is Your Support Staff Supporting You?
Lawyers may spend years working to build a successful law practice. With that success comes increased demand on your time; court appearances, discovery, legal research, client interviews, and preparation of petitions and motions. More...
Published: Feb 1, 2012

OCDC Article: Some Conflicts Are Without A Cure
Many lawyers believe that all conflicts of interest are waivable. There are, however, both consentable and nonconsentable conflicts of interest. More...
Published: Nov 15, 2011

OCDC Article: Is Missouri's Trust Account Overdraft Notification Rule Working?
On October 8, 2009, Missouri became the 40th state to adopt a trust account overdraft notification rule. More...
Published: Aug 1, 2011

OCDC Article: Lawyer - Are You Listening?
The Missouri Supreme Court has stated on numerous occasions that the purpose of the lawyer system is to protect the public and and maintain the integrity of the profession. More...
Published: May 1, 2011

OCDC Article: Disciplinary Sanctions
Because the vast majority of the members of the Missouri's Bar have never had firsthand experience with the attorney discipline system, you may be among the number who lack familiarity with the sanctions for professional contact. More...
Published: Nov 1, 2010

OCDC Article: Stand By Your Man (And Other Ethics Lessons From the Classics)
Many people, including lawyers, turn to the Classics for life lessons. Some find all the metaphors they need in Shakespeare. More...
Published: Aug 1, 2010

OCDC Article: OCDC Wants To Hear From You – Now What?
Supreme Court Rule 5.08 authorizes the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC) to investigate any matter of professional misconduct. The OCDC has authority to investigate alleged misconduct with or without a complaint. More...
Published: May 17, 2010

OCDC Articles - The Lawyers on the Front Line
Which lawyers in Missouri are the most likely to be the subject of an investigation arising out of the filing of a formal ethics complaint? More...
Published: Nov 28, 2009

OCDC Article - INSIDE THE INVESTIGATION - The Lawyer Under Investigation
You receive a letter from the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (“OCDC”) with an attached ethics complaint making a “lawful demand” for your “complete, written response.” You are now a lawyer under investigation... More...
Published: Jul 28, 2009

OCDC Article - INSIDE THE INVESTIGATION - The Role of the Regional Disciplinary Committee
After receipt of an ethics complaint against a St. Louis area attorney, the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel typically refers the investigation to either the Region X Disciplinary Committee -for attorneys whose practice is located in the 21st judicial circuit- or the Region XI Disciplinary Committee -for attorneys whose practice is located in the 22nd judicial circuit... More...
Published: May 28, 2009