All lawyers in Georgia are members of the State Bar of Georgia. The State Bar has been around in some form since the late 1800s when it was called the Georgia Bar Association. It was not until the 1960s that all lawyers in the state were required to be members of the State Bar of Georgia. Now there are more than 36,000 active members.
The purpose of the State Bar is to foster among its members the principles of duty and service to the public; to improve the administration of justice; and to advance the science of law.
Operating under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the State Bar of Georgia is the governing body for lawyers across the state.
Membership is a condition of admission to practice law in Georgia.
The main responsibility the State Bar has is administering its codes of ethics and discipline that are enforced by the Supreme Court of Georgia through the State Bar’s Office of the General Counsel.
Georgia lawyers are bound by strict rules of ethics in all of their professional dealings. The Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct help define a lawyer’s obligation to clients, to the judicial system, and to the public.
Although the Supreme Court of Georgia retains ultimate authority to regulate the legal profession, the State Bar of Georgia’s Office of the General Counsel serves as the Court’s arm to investigate and prosecute claims that a lawyer has violated the ethics rules.
Members of the public who believe that a Georgia lawyer has violated the rules of ethics should contact the State Bar’s Consumer Assistance Program to file a complaint.
The complaint is reviewed by the Grievance Counsel. If there is merit to the complaint, it is turned over to the Investigative Panel which appoints one or more of its members to investigate the charges.
If the Investigative Panel finds probable cause that an attorney has violated one or more Bar rules, the General Counsel’s office prosecutes the case in front of the Georgia Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will determine any disciplinary action.
The State Bar works to advance the practice of law.