Self regulation of the legal profession in Georgia
DeGennaro, Mark Lawrence
MetadataShow full item record
Both professional literature and popular literature assert that the ethics and professionalism of attorneys has declined in recent decades and is close to, if not in, a state of crisis. It has been suggested that this decline is the result of a view of legal ethics which utilizes a disciplinary system that quixotically employs categorical rules to evaluate ethical decisions that cannot be evaluated categorically. However, despite the concern over attorney ethics and professionalism and the widespread perception of decline in the same, there has been relatively little empirical study of the subject. This work empirically examines efforts of self regulation by the legal profession and, more specifically, self regulatory efforts of the legal profession in Georgia. The nature and characteristics of offenders, offenses, sanctions and process in professional discipline are examined using aggregate data from the State Bar and data compiled from Georgia Supreme Court disciplinary opinions. No empirically verifiable decline in the ethics of the bar is found after controlling for growth of bar membership. However, at the same time, there is strong professional perception that the professionalism of the bar has declined and that there are significant professionalism problems among some practitioners. Efforts to address these problems through continuing legal education do not appear to have significant immediate impacts. Some evidence of a long term educational impact upon the problem of unethical conduct was found to exist.