Consumers of legal services sometimes become unhappy with their attorney, just as consumers of other services may sometimes become unhappy with contractors, plumbers, shopkeepers or anyone else. The PCBA wants you to know there are important resources for you.
A. If you are unhappy with the fee the attorney has charged you, the PCBA operates a State Bar certified Fee Arbitration Program.
B. If you believe your attorney has committed some form of misconduct, you should file a complaint with the State Bar of California.
C. If you have discovered that the person you hired is not a licensed attorney, you should contact the Placer County Sheriff.
The unauthorized practice of law is a crime. Neither the State Bar nor PCBA has any jurisdiction over such a matter. You should also contact a licensed attorney to try to undo whatever harm the phony attorney has caused you. There are legitimate non-legal service providers in Placer County who are registered with the State Bar and who provide typing and other paralegal services. Sometimes people who claim to be paralegals or "document assistants" or "unlawful detainer assistants" provide valuable services. Unfortunately, some are illegally practicing law and can cause harm. In such cases they may be subject to criminal or civil liability. If you have used such a service and are not sure about the work that was done, you should contact a licensed attorney.
A leading treatise defines it this way: "Paralegals now perform many functions previously performed only by attorneys or law clerks. A paralegal may interview clients, research fact or law, draft pleadings, memoranda, briefs, or other documents, and design or develop office services or procedures. [Citations.] But a paralegal must always act under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar, and cannot give legal advice or otherwise engage in the practice of law." (1 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (4th ed. 1996) Attorneys, sect 397, p. 488.)
The fact that a judicial officer ruled against you is not a cause for discipline, and filing a complaint against a judicial officer is not a substitute for other legal remedies you may have, such as a motion for a new trial, appeal, or other remedy. If, however, you have a complaint about the way a judicial officer treated you, or if you want to complain about some breach of judicial ethics, please use the following links.
If you have a complaint about a Placer County judge, you should report the matter to the California Commission on Judicial Performance.
If you have a complaint about a traffic referee or court commissioner, you should first contact the Presiding Judge of the Placer County Courts. If you are not satisfied with the resolution of your complaint, you may then complain to the Commission on Judicial Performance.
The Placer County Courts rely heavily on Temporary Judges. These are trained attorneys who may hear traffic, small claims, unlawful detainer (eviction), family law and other cases, upon approval of the Presiding Judge and upon stipulation (agreement) of the parties. If you have a complaint about a Temporary Judge, you should report the matter in writing to the Presiding Judge of the Placer County Courts.