Study Urges Reform of 'Broken' Disciplinary System

, New York Law Journal

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New York's attorney discipline process is fragmented and inconsistent, lacks transparency and falls far short of its mission to protect consumers from unscrupulous or incompetent lawyers, according to an article in the upcoming New York University School of Law Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.

Originally appeared in print as Study Urges Reform of 'Broken' Attorney Disciplinary System

What's being said

  • M.S.

    Instead of solicitude over guidance to the public and the Bar as to what is ethical and unethical, the OCA -- or whomever -- should look into the personality traits and mindsets of those running our disciplinary committees and Appellate Courts to weed out the political hackery and emotional immaturity of those attorneys and judges who recommend and decide. While most attorneys who are disbarred seem to warrant that sanction, there is also an avidity to punish espoused by our so-called disciplinary committees and appellate courts based on religious and cultural prejudices suffering from the worst kind of symbolophobia to justify their own existences and power. Amidst what might seem like a mad phillipic on my part, the Rules, to paraphrase Judge Learned Hand, ought to require that he who decides must hear, rather than immorally entrust an attorney‘s fate to a wooden record developed by a superannuated -- but perhaps well-intended -- referee for review by an Appellate Division who does not see the abreactions nor hear the paralanguage of the attorney it harshly disciplines!

  • M.S.

    Instead of solicitude over guidance to the public and the Bar as to what is ethical and unethical, the OCA -- or whomever -- should look into the personality traits and mindsets of those running our disciplinary committees and Appellate Courts to weed out the political hackery and emotional immaturity of those attorneys and judges who recommend and decide. While most attorneys who are disbarred seem to warrant that sanction, there is also an avidity to punish espoused by our so-called disciplinary committees and appellate courts based on religious and cultural prejudices suffering from the worst kind of symbolophobia to justify their own existences and power. Amidst what might seem like a mad phillipic on my part, the Rules, to paraphrase Judge Learned Hand, ought to require that he who decides must hear, rather than immorally entrust an attorney‘s fate to a wooden record developed by a superannuated -- but perhaps well-intended -- referee for review by an Appellate Division who does not see the abreactions nor hear the paralanguage of the attorney it harshly disciplines!

  • Ginger

    I am surprised by the opinion of "grifhunter" that the reason why "committee chair types" like Sarah Jo Hamilton of Scalise & Hamilton write formal letters endorsing greater transparency of sanctionable conduct is because they are "bored" and need to "draw attention to themselves." Ms. Hamilton‘s clients might have avoided disciplinary complaints had they been better aware of what conduct is sanctionable and to what extent. There are enough traps for the unwary in the law -- there is no need to keep attorneys in the dark about the effects of their behavior. The suggestions in the referenced joint letter would clearly benefit all of us in the profession, regardless of whether or not they were prompted by an "editorial clamor" or "public outcry."

  • grifhunter

    Are we simply shilling for more micromanaging of lawyers practices or is there actual harm going unaddressed by the supposed deficiencies in lawyer discipline?

    I see no editorial clamor, no public outcry over the system as it now functions. Academics and bored committee chair types need something to draw attention to themselves and lawyer reform is always a safe target. Those who strive to "make a difference" in the function of the State‘s justice system should have much more pressing issues to work on

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