Characteristics of Lawyers Who Are Subject to Complaints and Misconduct Findings

33 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 13 Dec 2018

See all articles by Tara Sklar

Tara Sklar

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Yamna Taouk

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

David Studdert

Stanford Law School

Matthew J. Spittal

University of Melbourne

Ron Paterson

Health and Disability Commissioner

Marie M Bismark

University of Melbourne

Date Written: September 24, 2018

Abstract

Regulators of the legal profession are charged with protecting the public by ensuring lawyers are fit to practice law. However, their approach tends to be reactive and case-based, focusing on the resolution of individual complaints. Regulators generally do not seek to identify patterns and trends across their broader caseloads and the legal profession as a whole. Using administrative data routinely collected by the main regulator of the legal profession in Victoria, Australia, we characterized complaints lodged between 2005 and 2015 and the lawyers against whom they were made. We also analyzed risk factors for complaints and misconduct findings. We found the odds of being subject to a complaint were higher among lawyers who were male, older, had trust account authority and whose practices were smaller, in non-urban locations, and incorporated. A deeper understanding of these risk factors could support efforts to improve professional standards and reform regulatory practices.

Keywords: empirical legal research, lawyer misconduct, disciplinary proceedings, complaints, regulation

JEL Classification: K2, K23

Suggested Citation

Sklar, Tara and Taouk, Yamna and Studdert, David and Spittal, Matthew J. and Paterson, Ron and Bismark, Marie M, Characteristics of Lawyers Who Are Subject to Complaints and Misconduct Findings (September 24, 2018). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (forthcoming 2019) ; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 18-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988411 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2988411

Tara Sklar

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

Yamna Taouk

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health ( email )

207 Bouverie Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

David Studdert

Stanford Law School ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Matthew J. Spittal

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Ron Paterson

Health and Disability Commissioner ( email )

10F, Tower Centre
45 Queen Street
Auckland
New Zealand
011-649-373-1071 (Phone)
011-649-373-1061 (Fax)

Marie M Bismark (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

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