12 August 2014
Chief Disciplinary Counsel constructing new facilities
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Construction has begun on new facilities for Missouri’s attorney discipline system. Verslues Construction Inc. of Jefferson City, the low bidder, is the general contractor for the project.
The new 13,100-square-foot, two-level building is being constructed in Jefferson City on a lot owned by the chief disciplinary counsel’s office next to its existing office, which it has occupied for more than two decades. The new building, expected to be complete in about nine months, will be located at 3327 American Avenue and will house the office’s 22 employees. The new facility, which will allow for modest future expansion of the office, will include 12 lawyer offices, four paralegal offices, two conference rooms, smaller meeting rooms and training space.
“For years, our employees have worked in cramped conditions without adequate space for work, filing or storage,” Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan D. Pratzel said. “With this new building, our office will be better able to carry out its mission of protecting the public and the integrity of the legal profession.”
Once the chief disciplinary counsel’s office moves into its new building, renovations will begin on its existing 5,500-square-foot, two-level building at 3335 American Avenue to improve office space as well as overall building infrastructure. Once renovations are complete, which is expected to occur in June 2015, the lower level will be used for storage for the chief disciplinary counsel’s office while the upper level will house the staff and operations of the advisory committee and legal ethics counsel, who currently operate in leased space in The Missouri Bar building in downtown Jefferson City.
“When the legal ethics counsel office was created in 2003, there simply was not enough room in the building used by the chief disciplinary counsel’s office to house it there,” Jennifer Gille Bacon, a Kansas City attorney who chairs the advisory committee, said. “It is very exciting to have all the functions of Missouri’s disciplinary system in a central location, allowing the system to share some internal costs that it has been unable to do in the past. Attorneys should be aware, however, that the functions of the two offices will remain separate, as is the case currently.”
In addition to investigating complaints of misconduct made against attorneys and pursuing discipline in the Supreme Court of Missouri, the chief disciplinary counsel’s office also is responsible for handling trust account overdraft problems, offering an “ethics school” for attorneys, increased use of diversionary and probationary programs for attorneys, and making the system more transparent to the public. It largely has handled these changes with existing staff. More information about the chief disciplinary counsel’s office is available at www.mochiefcounsel.org.
The legal ethics counsel may give nonbinding informal advisory opinions to Missouri attorneys to help them avoid later ethical violations and also serves as counsel and staff to the advisory committee, which helps oversee Missouri’s entire attorney discipline system under the supervision of the Court. More information about the legal ethics counsel is available at www.mo-legal-ethics.org.