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Problem lawyers in California: empirical evidence speaks volumes

It might yet be too early to say how effectively the California State Bar has responded to severe criticisms levied by an audit of the organization that was released earlier this year.

Given the details and scope of the report's findings, lay persons across California are undoubtedly harboring ardent hopes that bar officials are reacting in good faith and with true resolve to right a host of obvious wrongs that are clearly inimical to the public interest.

The audit was conducted by an independent examiner and described in one media report as "scathing" for its spotlighted conclusions regarding the bar's alleged inadequate response to many thousands of complaints against California attorneys.

The examining team took an especially close look at backed-up complaints from 2010 and 2011, which reportedly were ordered to be resolved with dispatch by a previous executive director shortly after he took charge of the organization.

The results of that hurried approach were disastrous, concluded the audit. The above-cited article notes that, "As the state bar scurried o settle more than 5,100 backlogged complaints," its haste resulted in progressively decreasing -- and inappropriate -- discipline being metered out to problem attorneys.

In fact, the California Supreme Court overturned many bar/attorney settlements, with some lawyers who were found to be inadequately disciplined ending up disbarred from practice.

There is no question that the state bar is strongly challenged in its efforts to stay on top of bad lawyers and consistently mete out meaningful discipline, adequately protecting the public in the process. "Botched cases" and "ethical violations," notes the aforementioned article, are disturbingly common.

Any state resident who has concerns regarding the performance or conduct of a lawyer can secure prompt advice and zealous legal representation from a proven professional malpractice attorney.

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