Monday, June 28, 2010

Any Connection Between Bad Lawyers And Questionable Applicants?

I can't find any statistics.

There's plenty of statistics on Bar Examination passage. We all know though that the Bar Exam is a complete waste of paper.

As I watch the Bar admission and Bar grievance process, I have begun to wonder whether there is any correlation between a lawyer who commits an ethical violation, and a lawyer who has character and fitness issues at admission.

I never ask my clients in Bar grievance cases whether they had issues getting admitted to the Bar. Maybe I should. Maybe I should start my own small survey.

I think about this because I think the Bar admission process has gotten out of hand. Questions about speeding tickets, long ago misdemeanor offenses, "stuff-everyone-does-as-a-kid," and meaningless discrepancies are appearing more and more. Why is this? Are Bar applicants lying more than they used to, or is it that there's too many applicants, and therefore these silly things are more important?

I don't know.

But I do think it's important to know whether there is a correlation. Is a questionable, or "questioned" applicant more likely to be unethical? Does anyone know?

I want to know.

Anyone have any stats for me?

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Eric Cooperstein said...

Watch out Brian - you might step on the “third rail” of the bar admission process. I doubt anyone has any stats. It makes them nervous to study it because it might reveal that there is no correlation between character and fitness review and unethical conduct later. Of course, even if it was studied, someone would claim that the worst offenders were screened out and because they never became lawyers, we can't ever know whether they would have committed misconduct.

At a minimum, it would be interesting to know whether, to the extent applicants are screened out, how often the reason for the denial was misdemeanors from long ago or other youthful antics.

Anonymous said...

Yes! The Bar Admissions authority's only legitimate function is to screen out those that would violate the rules of professional conduct in the future if admitted. Conduct can be either (1) conduct which would subject an attorney to discipline or (2) conduct which makes future violations more likely. If it's not either one of those, why is it relevant. While discovery is broad, when it gets down to specifications the only conduct charged should be one or two above.

Melissa Brumback said...

As I am currently on a judicial district grievance committee, I have to say the things that I hear in the way of grievances seem very different to me than the things I remember being asked about before taking the bar. I mean, one speeding ticket. Really? That's waht you want to grill me about? But I think the bar review people are stumped for questions sometimes.... it's not like someone who will later pilfer the client trust account will admit to anything like that in the bar application, right?

But stats would be very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Wait...we were supposed to tell them about our speeding tickets? Oh. Hm.

Oh well.