Vulnerability to Legal Misconduct: Qualitative Study of Regulatory Decisions Involving Problem Lawyers and Their Clients

26 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018

See all articles by Tara Sklar

Tara Sklar

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Jennifer Schulz Moore

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Yamna Taouk

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Marie M Bismark

University of Melbourne

Date Written: December 10, 2018

Abstract

An emerging body of scholarship discusses ‘vulnerability’ as an antecedent of legal misconduct. One conceptualization of vulnerability indicates that an individual has greater susceptibility to risk of harm, and safeguards may protect against that risk of harm. This empirical study adds to the normative research with a qualitative analysis of 72 lawyers with multiple complaints and at least one hearing, paid financial misconduct claim, or striking from the roll (“problem lawyers”) in Victoria, Australia, between 2005 and 2015 through 311 regulatory decisions. We found that problem lawyers were disproportionately likely to be male, over age 45, and work in a sole or small practice. A quarter of these lawyers suffered from health impairments and among the clients harmed, half had cognitive impairments, were older age, or non-native English speakers. These findings underscore the need to better understand vulnerabilities to promote lawyer well-being, protect exposed clients, and reduce lapses in professionalism.

Keywords: empirical legal research, vulnerability, professional responsibility, legal profession, lawyer regulation, lawyer misconduct

Suggested Citation

Sklar, Tara and Schulz Moore, Jennifer and Taouk, Yamna and Bismark, Marie M, Vulnerability to Legal Misconduct: Qualitative Study of Regulatory Decisions Involving Problem Lawyers and Their Clients (December 10, 2018). Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 18-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3299744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3299744

Tara Sklar (Contact Author)

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

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

Jennifer Schulz Moore

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Yamna Taouk

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health ( email )

207 Bouverie Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

Marie M Bismark

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

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