Office of Attorney Ethics

The Office of Attorney Ethics acts as the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in discharging the Court's constitutional responsibility to supervise and discipline New Jersey attorneys.

The OAE assists and manages 18 district ethics committees and 17 district fee arbitration committees throughout the state. Additionally, the OAE itself handles serious, emergent and complex disciplinary prosecutions. The OAE also administers the Random Audit Compliance Program, which monitors the recordkeeping responsibilities of private practice law firms.

Attorney Discipline

  • Lawyers who commit unethical conduct in this state are subject to discipline by the Supreme Court. Such discipline can range from an admonition, the least serious discipline, to a reprimand, censure, suspension from practice, or permanent disbarment from practice. The "Attorney Discipline" page describes the process. The attorney disciplinary process is usually begun by the filing of an Attorney Grievance form with the Secretary of one of the Supreme Court's 18 district ethics committees. To contact a district ethics committee Secretary call the tollfree Ethics/Fee Arbitration Hotline at 1-(800)-406-8594. Be prepared to provide the five digit zip code of the attorney's address.

    If you have Acrobat Reader, you may print an Attorney Grievance Form. Send the original and two (2) copies to the district secretary where the attorney has an office for practice.

Public Charges

  • This page contains a monthly listing of all public charges pending against attorneys following investigation. These charges are accusations. Attorneys are presumed innocent until and unless found to have committed unethical conduct after hearing.

Disciplinary Histories

  • This page allows anyone with Adobe Acrobat Reader to search all public disciplinary actions taken against New Jersey Attorneys since 1990 and to determine what discipline, if any, has been imposed against the lawyer.

Annual Report 2013

  • This page contains the complete "State of the Attorney Disciplinary System Report" issued by the Office of Attorney Ethics for the last full calendar year. The report is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Fee Arbitration

  • Where a client believes that a New Jersey attorney has charged more than a reasonable fee for work performed, the dispute may be arbitrated. The "Fee Arbitration" page explains the arbitration process. Fee arbitration is instituted by a client's filing of a Request for Arbitration with the Secretary of one of the Supreme Court's 17 district fee arbitration committees. To contact a district fee arbitration committee Secretary, call the tollfree Ethics/Fee Arbitration Hotline at 1-(800)-406-8594. Be prepared to provide the five digit zip code of the attorney's address.

    If you have Acrobat Reader, you may print a Request for Fee Arbitration Form or an Attorney Fee Response Form. Send the original and five (5) copies to the district secretary where the attorney has an office for practice.

Random Audits

  • The Random Audit Compliance Program conducts periodic audits of law firms that engage in the private practice of law in the state. The purpose of the program is to insure that law firms maintain required records of clients' funds and attorneys' fees. The "Random Audits" page provides a more complete explanation of the program and the recordkeeping requirements.

Approved Trust Banks

  • This page contains the latest annual listing of all New Jersey financial institutions that have been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey to be depositories for attorney trust funds.

Ethics Help Desk

  • This page highlights a number of resources available to New Jersey lawyers to deal with ethical issues. This page provides details concerning written resources, such as the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on Attorney Advertising, as well as telephonic resources, including the Ethics Research Hotline. Links to OAE Disciplinary Case Summaries and Decisions of the Disciplinary Review Board are also included.

FAQs

  • The "Frequently Asked Questions" page provides information for the public and for attorneys, such as how to determine whether a New Jersey attorney has been previously disciplined or is now the subject of a public complaint, where to file a complaint against a judge, how to obtain a Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Ethical Conduct and similar questions.

Useful Links

  • The "Useful Links" page includes links to relevant New Jersey court rules, New Jersey case law and ethics opinions, and other helpful sites.
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