The Office of Bar Counsel (OBC) was established in 1974 by the Supreme Judicial Court under S.J.C. Rule 4:01 as an independent administrative body to investigate and evaluate complaints of unethical conduct against attorneys. In the event that the OBC concludes that an attorney has engaged in unethical conduct under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, the office will bring charges before the Board of Bar Overseers for adjudication. If misconduct is found, the Board either will impose discipline itself or recommend to the S.J.C. that it impose discipline depending on the circumstances.
The mission of the OBC is to protect the public from unethical conduct by attorneys and to preserve and enhance the integrity and high standards of the bar. The OBC is committed to the efficient and effective performance of its mission and strives for fairness in all its dealings with the public and the bar.
The OBC serves the public in the following ways:
The office provides information and support to the bar in the ethical practice of law in the following ways:
- investigates and responds to complaints of unethical conduct by attorneys;
- prosecutes attorney misconduct cases before the Board of Bar Overseers and the Supreme Judicial Court; and
- provides information on the bar disciplinary process and alternative remedies.
- participates in bar association and continuing legal education programs on ethics and practice management;
- provides articles on ethics issues on its website and to bar journals;
- works with the Board and the Supreme Judicial Court or its committees to develop and modify the rules of professional conduct and disciplinary procedural rules for attorneys; and
- provides guidance to attorneys faced with ethical problems and attorneys seeking reinstatement following suspension or disbarment.
One of the ways that the OBC serves the bar is by providing guidance to attorneys who are confronted with ethical questions that attorneys are having difficulty answering. To this end, the office staffs an ethics helpline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the hours of 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Attorneys may reach the helpline by calling (617) 728-8750. The OBC does not provide formal ethics advice during these calls, and the guidance offered is not binding on either the caller or the OBC, but the OBC tries to identify the relevant ethics rules. For formal ethics opinions, attorneys should contact the Massachusetts Bar Association (see http://www.massbar.org/for-attorneys/ethical-inquiries).
Office of the Bar Counsel
99 High Street, 2nd floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Phone (617) 728-8750
Constance V. Vecchione
First Assistant Bar Counsel
John W. Marshall
Director, Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program
Anne S.J. Kaufman
Assistant Bar Counsel
Richard C. Abati
Linda G. Bauer
Stacey A. L. Best
Heather L. LaVigne
Alison Mills Cloutier
Robert M. Daniszewski
Christine P. Deshler
Bruce T. Eisenhut
Pamela A. Harbeson
Kenneth W. Luke
Ellen M. Meagher
Terrence D. Pricher
Jane R. Rabe
Susan Strauss Weisberg