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Lively debate surrounds California’s lawyer fingerprinting proposal

The debate over the prospective fingerprinting of all California attorneys by April 30 of next year is not over.

In fact, it just seems to be getting starting, as evidenced by a spate of strong comments passed along in one recent news report on the State Bar-authored proposal. The fingerprinting onus is presently just a recommendation, but the exaction is widely expected to be approved soon by the California Supreme Court.

We noted the development in a recent blog post, stating in our April 13 entry that legal regulators are moving forward with the requirement because they “harbor some concerns regarding the integrity and past backgrounds of select attorneys.”

That concern seems well warranted. Notwithstanding a current requirement for California lawyers to self-report criminal convictions, fewer than 10% of those tasked to do so actually disclosed the negative information over a recent measuring period.

That needs to change, stress legal regulators, given the public protection mission that centrally guides the State Bar.

“If you have an attorney convicted, let’s say of fraud, you want to know it,” says a senior Bar official.

Legal officials are currently fleshing out just how much – and in what detail – derogatory personal information will be available to public scrutiny. The Bar is fine tuning the particulars, and adds that lawyer discipline for reportable actions not disclosed will be determined via a case-by-case review.

Unsurprisingly, notes the above-cited article, the Bar has recently been “flooded with thousands of negative comments from lawyers.”

Many practitioners also applaud the projected change, though.

“You have to hold yourself up to a higher standard,” says one.

We certainly endorse that view at the Los Angeles legal malpractice law firm of Glickman & Glickman. So too do the legions of individuals and families across California that absolutely depend upon their legal counsel’s integrity and ethical behavior.