In today’s online information age, consumers can easily learn where a lawyer went to school, how long he or she has been in practice, whether or not the attorney is in good standing with the state bar and in some instances, what they typically charge for services. What the vast majority of Americans cannot easily discover, however, is whether the attorney they are considering hiring has a disciplinary record. Unless an attorney volunteers this information directly or a state bar or disciplinary office makes it available to the public, consumers are left in the dark. They have no way of knowing the number of complaints, the type of misconduct alleged, the number of investigations started, the number dismissed, and if misconduct is found, the type of severity of discipline imposed.
To galvanize states to reform their flawed systems for overseeing lawyers, HALT, the nation’s oldest legal consumer advocacy group, conducted a breakthrough national study identifying those attorney discipline systems that use transparent practices and those that operate under the most secretive procedures. The results of the study show that most states conceal critical information about ethics charges against lawyers, routinely ignoring consumers’ right to know about current and previous transgressions of an attorney they are considering hiring.
Download the full Issue Brief
Download the state by state comparison