Monday, May 16, 2011
Steve Gillers has an interesting post on disciplinary sanctions over at Legal Ethics Forum. He notes that many decisions describe pretty awful misconduct but arrive at a very lenient destination. I agree with his observations in that regard. Note his final thought:
I sometimes wonder if we should just forget the sanctions and instead require the lawyer to give the court's opinion to all present and prospective clients. It might better protect the public.
What is really needed to protect (or at least forewarn) the public is ready and easily available online access to complete information about bar sanctions. Not summmaries, but the actual opinions, informal admonitions, hearing reports, review board reports, court decisions--the full package. Like you see on the Arizona web page. Pennsylvania also gets it right.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many jurisdictions make this kind of information either difficult or impossible to find. Until that situation is rectified, bar discipline will be as much about the parochial, self-interested concerns of the Bar rather than (as every opinion on the subject claims) the protection of the public. (Mike Frisch)