The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) is tasked with the responsibility of investigating all allegations of lawyer misconduct and making recommendations to the Supreme Court when discipline is warranted. The agency consists of a statewide board, hearing committees, disciplinary counsel and administrative staff appointed by the board and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC).
The Disciplinary Board is composed of 14 members who are appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. One member is nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association each year and must have prior lawyer discipline experience. Four others are members of the general public with diverse backgrounds.
April 1, 2015, marked the 25th year anniversary of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s creation by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Over that span the Court has appointed 81 lawyers and non-lawyers to serve as Disciplinary Board members, all of whom served as volunteers without compensation, to uphold the high standards of Louisiana’s legal profession. Hundreds of other lawyers have served as hearing committee members and probation monitors to support a lawyer regulation system that is patterned after the ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement and is considered one of the premier disciplinary agencies in the country.
In 2015, at the request of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, the justices of the Supreme Court invited a consultation team of the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility to conduct a comprehensive review of the entire Louisiana disciplinary system with a view toward recommending any changes that would result in an improved lawyer regulatory agency. The Supreme Court anticipates receipt of the product of that review in the spring of 2016.
While the lawyer population in Louisiana has grown to nearly 22,000 attorneys, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) reports that the number of written complaints alleging misconduct is down at 2,955. Less than half, or 1,410 complaints, were opened for formal disciplinary investigation. The remaining complaints were resolved informally by ODC, referred to the Louisiana State Bar Association’s alternatives to discipline, or dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Effective April, 2015, the Supreme Court amended the Rules of Professional Conduct to formally mandate that attorneys subject their client trust accounts to a reconciliation process on a not less than quarterly basis. As a result of that rule change, the ODC witnessed a dramatic reduction in the number of overdraft notifications on trust accounts resulting in the need for fewer disciplinary audits and corrective action while ensuring that client and third party funds were best protected.
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board