My Shingle

South Carolina Makes Discipline Records Available Online

by Carolyn Elefant on May 21, 2006 · 2 comments

in Ethics & Malpractice Issues, News

Print Friendly

According to this article, the South Carolina Bar moved to electronically post disciplines of lawyers on its webstie for 75 years (of course, who knows if the web in its present form will be around by then).  Some lawyers oppose this decision, arguing that it “creates a Scarlet Letter” for anyone who makes a mistake.   But another lawyer argued that technical violations would not show because they don’t “go all the way.”

While I do believe that the bars often unfairly target solos, on balance, I support the online disclosure system.  I do believe, however, that if the disciplinary action is posted that it should be accompanied by all of the attorney’s filings in his or her defense so that clients and other lawyers can arrive at their own judgment of whether the sanction was warranted.  I’ve heard too many stories from colleagues who’ve referred cases to other lawyers only to discover that those lawyers had been suspended or disbarred.  Making this information available can also spare lawyers from making negligent referrals.

  • http://trialadnotes.blogspot.com Mary Whisner

    In Washington State, we’ve had access to disciplinary notices (not mere allegations, but the bar’s final decision) for some time.
    The Washington State Bar News has always run disciplinary notices. Now that the Bar News is on the web, anyone can read them easily. (See http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/barnews/may06-disc.htm)
    If you know a lawyer’s name or bar number, you can search here: http://pro.wsba.org/PublicDisciplineSearch.asp. (To see what you get, try a common name like “Johnson.” There don’t happen to be any discipline notices for Elefants in our state so far.) These listings aren’t complete, but they’re a start.
    When you search the official directory of bar members (http://pro.wsba.org), you automatically see the lawyer’s current status. (Try Vanderveen, who recently pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge and is now listed as Suspended.)
    Having this information available is important to potential clients and others. Why should we be able to find out about a movie star’s DUI but not our attorney’s misappropriation of funds?

  • http://trialadnotes.blogspot.com Mary Whisner

    In Washington State, we’ve had access to disciplinary notices (not mere allegations, but the bar’s final decision) for some time.
    The Washington State Bar News has always run disciplinary notices. Now that the Bar News is on the web, anyone can read them easily. (See http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/barnews/may06-disc.htm)
    If you know a lawyer’s name or bar number, you can search here: http://pro.wsba.org/PublicDisciplineSearch.asp. (To see what you get, try a common name like “Johnson.” There don’t happen to be any discipline notices for Elefants in our state so far.) These listings aren’t complete, but they’re a start.
    When you search the official directory of bar members (http://pro.wsba.org), you automatically see the lawyer’s current status. (Try Vanderveen, who recently pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge and is now listed as Suspended.)
    Having this information available is important to potential clients and others. Why should we be able to find out about a movie star’s DUI but not our attorney’s misappropriation of funds?

Previous post:

Next post: