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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76835 Find in a Library
Title: Lawyer Competence and Lawyer Discipline - Beyond the Bar?
Journal: Georgetown Law Journal  Volume:69  Issue:3  Dated:(February 1981)  Pages:705-743
Author(s): S R Martyn
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 39
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the role of the bar disciplinary process as a means of ensuring lawyer competence; the bar grievance process, alternative competency controls, and the future role of the bar are discussed.
Abstract: With the recent publication of the American Bar Association's proposed Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the questions of lawyer competence and discipline again have confronted the organized bar. Generally, the rules attempt to clarify the legal and ethical duties of lawyers in a variety of situations. In particular, the rules specify and expand the requirements of competent legal representation. During the past century, lawyers have been successful in convincing the courts to accept their assistance in regulating the legal profession. Today, over two-thirds of the States have integrated the bar by requiring membership of all attorneys. It is suggested herein that the traditional grievance process is ineffective because of the lack of resources and the self-protective attitude of the bar. Existing alternative competency controls, such as bar entry standards, process measures (peer review), performance measures, and public control through legislation are all deficient in some respect and cannot serve as adequate enforcement mechanisms. Recommended reforms that would ensure satisfactory discipline and competency include increased publicity in the grievance process; increased lay representation at the screening, investigation and hearing stages; and a requirement that grievance administrators monitor civil malpractice suits. The limited structural changes that are necessary to facilitate these reforms will serve to strengthen the grievance process and aid the bar in its development of competence criteria. Failure to experiment with new methods of appeasing client concerns risks eventual judicial or legislative imposition of alternatives far less solicitous of lawyer involvement. The article provides 292 footnotes. (Author abstract modifed)
Index Term(s): American Bar Association (ABA); Attorney disbarment; Attorneys; Code of ethics; Discipline; Legal malpractice; Misconduct; Professional conduct and ethics
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