The Office of Bar Counsel is on track to receive more attorney ethics complaints in 2013 than it did in 2012, especially related to criminal cases.
According to the latest bar counsel statistics, the office received 1,090 complaints as of Nov. 13, up from 1,021 complaints received by the same time in 2012. There were a total of 1,081 complaints received by bar counsel in 2012.
Bar counsel officials said they weren't sure what accounted for the increase in complaints this year. "There's nothing in particular that we know of at this point," said Deputy Bar Counsel Elizabeth Herman.
Most of the jump came from complaints related to criminal cases. The office received 159 complaints by Nov. 13 related to criminal matters, up 50 percent from the 106 complaints filed by the same time last year. Bar counsel received 110 complaints related to criminal cases in 2012.
The office had received 446 docketed complaints by Nov. 13. It also received 485 undocketed complaints, which are not opened for a full investigation. Undocketed complaints tend to involve lawyers who aren't members of the D.C. Bar or allegations that don’t qualify as ethical violations.
Despite the uptick in 2013, the number of attorney ethics complaints in the District has been trending down over the past five years. In 2009, bar counsel received a five-year high of 1,232 complaints.
The majority of complaints bar counsel does investigate are ultimately dismissed.