Sunset, Sunrise; Lawyers Revamp Their Disciplinary System and Need Both Lawyers and Non-Lawyers

January 01, 2004

Texas lawyers are really serious about ferreting out unethical conduct by its Bar  members and disciplining those who violate its rules of professional conduct.  In 1992 the State Bar of Texas overhauled its disciplinary system to make filing  grievances against lawyers more “user friendly.” The State Bar now finds itself handling approximately 9,000 grievances a year.  However, some Texas legislators apparently thought that the lawyer disciplinary system, although effective, was cumbersome and that some lawyers may be “getting off the hook.”  To take care of this, the 78th Legislature in its regular session last year used the State Bar’s “sunset review” to make some changes.  It passed House Bill 599. This new law, among other things, instructed the Texas Supreme Court to adopt changes to the Texas Bar’s Rules of Disciplinary Procedure by January 1, 2004.  The Supreme Court recently complied with the Legislature’s mandate and adopted new lawyer disciplinary procedures effective January 1 that will have a significant impact on the way complaints against lawyers are handled.

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