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Chief Trial Counsel named to lead attorney discipline system

The State Bar of California has named a new Chief Trial Counsel to lead the key component of the bar’s attorney discipline system, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel. The bar named Steven Moawad, a long-time Contra Costa County prosecutor, to the position on April 26.

“I’m pleased to welcome Steven Moawad to the Chief Trial Counsel position. I’m confident that he will excel as California’s top prosecutor for attorney misconduct,” said James P. Fox, president of the State Bar of California. “He has dedicated his career to public service, and will now turn his significant prosecutorial and management experience to the bar’s public protection mission of ensuring that attorney misconduct is appropriately and vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”

Moawad has been a prosecutor for two decades, serving as deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County since 1997, a manager of the District Attorney’s Special Operations Division since 2012 and a senior deputy district attorney since 2014. His extensive prosecutorial experience includes consumer protection, environmental protection, insurance fraud, as well as criminal cases. He also served as the project manager for the implementation of a new case management system for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Moawad received his J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law in 1997 and a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California in 2003. He was admitted to the State Bar as a licensed attorney in 1997.

“Everyone should be confident that when they need help with a legal issue, the attorney in whom they place their trust is competent and ethical,” said Steven Moawad. “I am both humbled and honored to join the Office of Chief Trial Counsel in carrying out its mission to protect the public and enhance the administration of justice.”

State Bar Executive Director Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said she was delighted to welcome Moawad to the executive team.

“He joins the bar at a pivotal time and will help the agency implement crucial reforms. He will also serve a key role in enforcing the new proposed California attorney ethics rules after they are approved by the Supreme Court,” Parker said.

Moawad was expected to begin as the Chief Trial Counsel by early June.

The bar will submit the appointment of Steven Moawad as Chief Trial Counsel to the California Senate Rules Committee, as the position is subject to Senate confirmation.

About the Office of Chief Trial Counsel

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) reviews approximately 16,000 complaints of attorney misconduct each year, and, where appropriate, conducts investigations, files discipline charges, and prosecutes cases in the State Bar Court. The office also reaches settlements, through stipulations, both before and after filing charges, with attorneys who have engaged in ethical violations or other misconduct.

OCTC has a specialized unit dedicated to addressing the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) by non-attorneys. The UPL unit responds to and investigates complaints of people practicing law without a license, including those who seek to take advantage of immigrant communities throughout California by posing as attorneys. The bar has the authority to assume the practice of people engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, partners with other government agencies on enforcement, and refers cases to City Attorneys and District Attorneys for prosecution.

The State Bar’s Annual Discipline Report, which provides data on the functioning of the Office of Chief Trial Counsel and other parts of the attorney discipline system, will be submitted to the Legislature, the California Supreme Court and the Governor by the end of this month.

State Bar Attorney Discipline Resources for the Public

●  File an attorney misconduct complaint with the State Bar

●  Intake line: 800-843-9053

●  File a complaint against a non-attorney for the unauthorized practice of law

●  What happens after you file a complaint?

●  Apply for the Client Security Fund if you have lost money due to attorney misconduct