California Bar Association Attorney Search

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How do I search for an attorney in California?

The State Bar Association of California does not provide for attorney referrals. If you are searching for a specific attorney, much information is available at the State Bar of California website. You may enter in the person’s name under the “Attorney Search” feature, which will then yield related information about that particular attorney’s bar membership. 

What type of attorney information is available on the internet?

The “Attorney Search” database found at the State Bar Association of California provides the following information on its attorneys: 

The attorney’s Membership Status may either be: Active, Inactive, Not Eligible, Resigned, or Disbarred. The database does not provide information on former attorneys who are deceased, or attorneys who are currently serving as a judge in a court of law.  

Information is also available as to whether the attorney is a “certified legal specialist” in a particular field of law.  

What should I be checking for when searching for an attorney?

First, you should check to see that the attorney is actually a member of the California Bar. Membership implies that they have fulfilled all the requirements for becoming a lawyer in California, such as completing law school, passing the bar exam, and completing a moral character investigation. 

Second, you should check that the attorney’s membership status reflects that they are currently active and practicing in California. An “inactive” status means that the attorney is currently not practicing, but they may change their status to “active” at any time at their own election. Members whose status states that they are not eligible, resigned, or disbarred generally cannot practice law in California.

Next, you should check to see if there have been any disciplinary actions that the lawyer was subject to. A previous history of disciplinary action does not automatically disqualify an attorney from practicing in California. However, you have every right to know an attorney’s history, especially if you will be working with them on important matters. 

Finally, you should gather any information that you think would be helpful for your particular case. For example, if you require an attorney who is a specialist in a particular field of law, or if you prefer an attorney who graduated from a particular school, you can find this information online as well. 

What if I wish to file a complaint about a California lawyer?

The State Bar website also provides a link under “Attorney Complaints” where complaints about attorney members may be filed. The site also includes details about its system of discipline for attorneys. 

You can also obtain a certificate of standing from the State Bar Association regarding any specific attorney. The certificate is a written statement that verifies whether the attorney has a record of public discipline, and whether they are currently in good standing with the bar. It does not provide details about any reasons why an attorney may have been subject to discipline. The certificate is available for a fee of $25.

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Last Modified: 01-17-2012 10:53 AM PST

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