Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Purpose and Mission

  • Print Page

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (formerly known as the Office of Bar Counsel) was created in 1972 as a result of the Court Reorganization Act, which established the D.C. Court of Appeals. Pursuant to Rule XI of the D.C. Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel serves as the chief prosecutor for attorney disciplinary matters involving active or inactive attorneys who are members of the D.C. Bar.  In this capacity, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel functions to (1) protect the public and the courts; (2) maintain the integrity of the legal profession; and (3) deter attorneys from engaging in misconduct.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigates complaints and allegations of ethical misconduct and initiates appropriate resolutions, ranging from dismissals, diversions, and informal admonitions, to the preparation of formal charges.

In cases in which charges are formally presented by petition, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel prosecutes the charges before a hearing committee, the Board on Professional Responsibility, and ultimately, the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Meet the Disciplinary Counsel

Hamilton P. “Phil” Fox III serves as Disciplinary Counsel for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Washington, D.C. Phil joined the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in 2011 as an Assistant Disciplinary Counsel after retiring from Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, where he had practiced since 1990. 

After graduating from Yale Law School, Phil was a law clerk to Judge Frank M. Coffin of the First Circuit and then to Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.  He served as a federal prosecutor for more than seven years, including serving in the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.  He then entered private practice as a solo/small firm practitioner and a partner in international law firms. While in private practice, he served as Associate Special Counsel to the House Ethics Committee. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia and Georgetown law schools.

Phil served many years with the D.C. attorney discipline system, as a Hearing Committee Member and then as a Member, Vice Chair and Chair of the Board on Professional Responsibility.  Phil has also represented respondents in disciplinary proceedings. 

Phil was also a Member and Chair of the Committee on Admissions and Grievances, District of Columbia Circuit; a Member, Vice Chair, and Chair of the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee; a Member of the D.C. Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee; and a Member of the Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law, D.C. Court of Appeals.

Hamilton P. “Phil” Fox III was sworn in as the Disciplinary Counsel on June 7, 2017, following his appointment by the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility.

Office of Disciplinary Counsel Staff

Disciplinary Counsel
Hamilton P. Fox III

Deputy Disciplinary Counsel
Julia L. Porter

Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel
Myles V. Lynk
Becky Neal

Assistant Disciplinary Counsel
Hendrik R. deBoer
Jerri U. Dunston
Ebtehaj Kalantar
Jelani C. Lowery
Sean P. O’Brien
Joseph C. Perry
William R. Ross
H. Clay Smith III
Caroll Donayre Somoza
Traci M. Tait

Senior Staff Attorney
Lawrence K. Bloom

Staff Attorney
Angela Walker

Manager, Forensic Investigations
Charles M. Anderson

Investigative Attorney
Julia Frankston-Morris*
Azadeh Matinpour

Intake Investigator
Melissa Rolfott

Senior Law Clerk
Christine Chicherio
Brandi M. Keesee
Arquimides Leon
Amanda Urena

Office Manager
Christina M. Spears

*Admitted only in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Frequently Asked Questions for the Public

What is the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) was created by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to investigate and prosecute complaints of ethical misconduct against lawyers licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia who violate the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC).

The Rules describe a lawyer’s obligation to clients, the courts, and the general public in professional and private dealings. The purpose of this process is to protect the public by disciplining lawyers who violate the ethics rules. Our office cannot consider complaints against judges acting in a judicial capacity.

For additional information, see Purpose and Mission.
 

Can you represent me in court or give me legal advice?

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel cannot represent you, give you any legal advice, or change the outcome of a court decision.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel cannot refer you to an attorney. You may consult the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center to obtain information. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center sponsors a free monthly Advice & Referral Clinic, where you can speak with a lawyer at no charge to determine if you have a legal problem and possibly receive a referral to a legal or other service provider. For clinic locations and times, call the Legal Information Help Line at 202-626-3499.

Free Legal Help 

Contact the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center if you are an individual living in poverty who is at risk of losing your home, your livelihood, or your family. The Center also helps small businesses and community-based nonprofits needing legal assistance.

I am having problems with my attorney. What should I do?

Try to resolve issues with your attorney by communicating your concerns clearly and asking for a response.  Your attorney should clearly explain the fee agreement and scope of representation, keep you aware of developments in your case, and respond to any reasonable requests you may have for information.


If you feel that your problem is the result of poor communication or a misunderstanding between you and the attorney, you should have an open talk with the attorney before you file a complaint.
 

Can you help me contact my attorney?

The D.C. Bar’s Find a Member feature provides the same publicly available contact information for attorneys that we would be able to share with you.  If you are still unable to reach your attorney, you may need to file a complaint with our office.

Is my attorney licensed in the District of Columbia?

The D.C. Bar’s Find a Member feature enables a search of all attorneys licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.  If an attorney is not listed as authorized to practice law and is advising you about D.C. law or representing you in Superior Court, please contact the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

View All
Skyline