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Top 5 – How to respond to an ARDC letter

Young attorneys are particularly susceptible to receiving ARDC complaints due to lack of experience. If you receive an "ARDC letter," what should you do?

  1. Take a breath. After the fear and anger subsides, take comfort in the fact that more than 90 percent of initial complaints are disposed of without charges being brought.
  2. Do your research. The ISBA has published opinions on a large number of issues treated by the Rules. It's a quick and efficient way to learn if there are interpretations of the Rules affecting your situation.
  3. Get a second opinion. Show the letter to a fellow attorney whom you trust and respect and get some perspective.
  4. Notify your insurance. Many professional liability insurance policies offer some coverage for the defense of disciplinary complaints.
  5. Keep a level head, be cooperative and respond timely. Support your response like you would build any other case— provide documents in support of your position, and avoid anger, sarcasm and personal attacks levelled against the complainant or ARDC counsel.

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The ISBA Young Lawyers Division serves as a resource for young lawyers practicing in Illinois to develop, enhance, and foster a balanced professional life. It consists of all ISBA members under age 37 and members admitted to practice under 7 years.

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