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How many attorneys are in California? And much more interesting answers!

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The number of attorneys in California is difficult to determine precisely as the State Bar does not track exact figures. However, according to the American Bar Association, in 2019 there were approximately 191,059 licensed attorneys in California. This included both active and inactive members of the State Bar. Additionally, more than 80% of those attorneys practiced law in California. This made California the state with the highest number of attorneys in the United States. Furthermore, California had more than double the amount of attorneys as its closest competitor, New York. The large number of licensed attorneys in California indicates that is has a very active legal industry.


The State Bar also reported that almost two-thirds of all California attorneys were located in just three counties: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. This should come as no surprise given that these are some of the most populous cities in California with many businesses and individuals needing legal services. In addition to the high number of attorneys practicing law throughout California, there is also a significant amount of diversity among them.

How can I file a complaint against an attorney?

If you believe that an attorney has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, you can file a complaint with the California State Bar. To do so, you must submit a written statement that details your specific allegation(s) and any evidence to support it. This statement should be sent to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC). You can find the OCTC’s address on the State Bar website. Once your complaint has been received, it will be reviewed and investigated by an OCTC deputy trial counsel or investigator. An attorney may also be referred to a disciplinary committee if necessary.

If you have any questions about filing a complaint against an attorney, you can contact the OCTC at 800-843-9053 or visit the State Bar website for more information.

What is the most common complaint against lawyers in California?

The most common complaint against attorneys in California is that of failing to communicate with their client. This includes not responding to emails, phone calls or letters in a timely manner and not providing adequate updates on the progress of the case. Other complaints include billing for unnecessary services, engaging in unethical behavior and failing to provide effective representation. In addition, attorneys may also be accused of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty or malpractice. Finally, some attorneys may face disciplinary action for failing to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.


It is important to note that not all complaints against attorneys will result in disciplinary action. However, if you feel that your attorney has acted in an unethical or unprofessional manner, it is best to file a complaint and allow the OCTC to investigate the situation. Doing so can help protect other clients from similar experiences and ensure that attorneys are held accountable for their actions.

What is considered attorney misconduct in California?

Attorney misconduct in California includes any action or omission that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct. Examples of attorney misconduct include failing to communicate with clients, engaging in unethical behavior, failing to provide effective representation, billing for unnecessary services and engaging in conflicts of interest. Other examples include charging excessive fees and not disclosing potential risks to clients. In addition, attorneys may face disciplinary action for breaching fiduciary duties, negligence or malpractice. Depending on the severity of the misconduct, an attorney may be subject to disciplinary actions such as suspension or disbarment from the State Bar.


It is important to note that complaints against attorneys must be taken seriously and investigated promptly. Filing a complaint with the OCTC can help ensure that those who are acting unethically or illegally are held accountable for their actions. Doing so can also help protect other clients from similar experiences in the future.

If you suspect that an attorney is engaging in misconduct, it is important to report the issue and allow the OCTC to investigate it. Doing so can help ensure that attorneys are held to a high standard of professional conduct and ethical behavior. It also protects clients from experiencing similar issues in the future.

What happens when you file a grievance against an attorney

When a complaint is filed against an attorney in California, the State Bar of California Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) will review and investigate the allegations. During this investigation, OCTC will contact both the complainant and the attorney to gain more information about the incident. If necessary, an attorney may be referred to a disciplinary committee for further action. Depending on the severity of the misconduct, an attorney may face disciplinary action such as suspension or disbarment from practice.

The State Bar also has the authority to impose a variety of sanctions and remedies to address any issues that may have arisen from the complaint. It is important to note that filing a grievance against an attorney does not guarantee that disciplinary action will be taken. However, it does provide an opportunity for attorneys to be held accountable for their actions and provides a mechanism for protecting other clients from similar experiences in the future. By taking steps to file a grievance, you are helping ensure that attorneys maintain ethical and professional standards when providing services to their clients. Thank you for your interest in protecting the legal profession and ensuring justice is served.

What happens to my files if my attorney dies?

If an attorney passes away, their files will be handled according to California law. Typically, if the attorney has a partner or successor, they may take possession of any open files and continue representing the client. If there is no partner or successor, then the executor or administrator of the deceased attorney’s estate may take possession of the open files and make arrangements for another lawyer to take over representation. It is important to note that the state bar reserves the right to review all files in order to ensure they were properly closed out prior to transfer. Clients should also be aware that fees may be charged by either the executor or administrator in order for them access their file from a deceased attorney's office. In some cases, clients may be able to receive assistance from the state bar with recovering their file materials. It is important that clients contact their local bar to inquire about specific options available in their area

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