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The West Virginia State Bar is the organization of all lawyers licensed to practice law in West Virginia and exists to serve members, the legal profession and the public. The mission of the West Virginia State Bar is to improve the administration of justice and enhance the provision of legal services to our citizens. The goal of our home page is to provide useful information regarding the law and West Virginia.

The West Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service (Lawyer Referral Service) is a program of The West Virginia State Bar.
The Lawyer Referral Service shall be governed by the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar.
The purpose of the Lawyer Referral Service shall be to:
Promote access to legal services for all citizens of West Virginia.
Provide citizens needing legal counsel with referrals to lawyers in their area.
Provide initial attorney-client consultations at a minimum cost.

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board, with the assistance of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, has jurisdiction to investigate complaints regarding legal ethics; to hold hearings; and to make recommendations with respect to disciplinary action to be taken against lawyers. The Board consists of two-thirds practicing lawyers and one-third non-lawyers, all appointed by the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar. The Board is divided into an Investigative Panel, which reviews complaints, and a Hearing Panel, which presides over hearings. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel consists of three lawyers a Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel and two Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel and four support staff. The Lawyer Disciplinary Board and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel are funded by The West Virginia State Bar from dues paid by West Virginia
lawyers.

When they enter practice in West Virginia, all lawyers obligate themselves to uphold the law and to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct which regulate the professional conduct of lawyers. Those who violate these professional obligations are subject to discipline.

However, lawyers are human. Some are more competent than others. Sometimes they make mistakes. A lawyer may lose the trust and confidence of a client for various reasons. In many cases where a client becomes dissatisfied, grounds for discipline do not exist. Lawyers may be disciplined only if they have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. Mere dissatisfaction with, or disappointment in, the results of litigation or other legal business is not grounds for disciplinary action against a lawyer.

A formal complaint of unprofessional conduct against a lawyer is a serious matter. It puts into action the disciplinary process of The West Virginia State Bar and the Supreme Court of Appeals. The lawyer inevitably suffers from the accusation regardless of whether he or she is ultimately found to be at fault. If you believe your complaint is well-founded, by all means make it.

On the other hand, if you feel that your grievance may be the result of inadequate communications--lack of sufficient agreement or some misunderstanding--it may be that the problem can be solved by a frank talk with the lawyer. Tell him or her of your dissatisfaction, and ask for a full explanation of the matter involved. The purpose of a disciplinary proceeding is to administer discipline to the lawyer when it is deserved. The Lawyer Disciplinary Board does not and cannot give individual legal service or advice to any person making a complaint, nor can it provide a lawyer to any person.

Further, any loss the client may have sustained as a result of the matter involved cannot usually be recovered through disciplinary proceedings. Even though the lawyer may be punished, the complaining party who believes he or she has been damaged must enforce his or right by the usual legal methods. The statute of limitations for bringing a legal action against a lawyer is not stayed during the time your ethics complaint is pending. The West Virginia State Bar does maintain a Client Security Fund from which restitution can be made in certain cases involving a lawyer's misuse of client funds.

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