An aging lawyer population … and discipline

In an article in a recent newspaper, the writer was lamenting the fact that our lawyer population is aging, as is our population in general. (Better that than the alternative!)

Along with this factoid came the observation that there is a rising case load of disciplinary matters in some jurisdictions.

The natural conclusion is that older lawyers are more careless, have too many pressures in their mid-life that distract their attention and cause them to make careless errors leading to discipline.

The myth is that younger lawyers have neither so much business nor such complicated matters as do older lawyers … and therefore stay out of the “system.” I disagree. Young lawyers are just as likely to have large case loads; they are just as likely to have sophisticated matters … at least the young lawyers that I see.

Young lawyers are closer to the teaching of the rules of professional conduct than are the older lawyers. But, with MCLE requirements, even the older lawyers know generally what the rules are. So what is the difference?

One difference is that it is the older lawyers who tend to be running the “business” side of the practice. The younger lawyers tend to be the followers. But, whether younger or older, the majority of the complaints against lawyers relate to the careless dealings with clients … all management issues, not technical or substantive issues of law.

And while 80% of our dues relate to disciplinary matters, our bar associations fail to spend much effort on teaching lawyers how to do it right. We’re so concerned about protecting the public as the bar’s #1 mission that we forget who pays the dues … Lawyers must be treated as they are: members of a trade, a guild, a profession that requires its organization to be effective and efficient in the delivery of services and education to reduce these management transgressions


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