Texas Lawyer – Attorney Ranks Rise, But Disciplinary Actions and Grievances Drop

Jim McCormack, a former chief disciplinary counsel for the State Bar of Texas, says he saw a “disturbing trend” when he reviewed the number of grievances filed and disciplinary actions against lawyers over nearly 20 years. While the population of lawyers has increased steadily during that period, the number of grievances filed with the State Bar and the number of disciplinary actions has decreased dramatically from its high during the 1994-1995 bar year.

McCormack’s findings are included in a letter attached to the Bar Grievance Oversight Committee’s June 1 report to the Texas Supreme Court. According to charts in McCormack’s letter, in 2008-2009, the State Bar meted out roughly half the number of disciplinary actions it assessed against lawyers in 1994-1995. The charts show there were 9,582 grievances filed and 673 disciplines assessed in 1994-1995, compared to 7,108 grievances and 335 disciplines in 2008-2009, but the number of lawyers in Texas increased from 60,500 to 84,183 during that period. [See “State Bar of Texas Grievance System By the Numbers,” below.]

“That raises the question: What’s going on here?” says McCormack of the Law Offices of James M. McCormack in Austin.

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