Black Experience

Black Male Attorneys in California More Likely to Face State Bar Discipline: Study

Black male attorneys in California are far more likely to be targets of complaints filed by their clients than other attorneys in the state, according to a new report by the State Bar of California.

The study, “Discrepancies by Race and Gender in Attorney Discipline by the State Bar of California: An Empirical Analysis,” was conducted by George Farkas, professor at the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, who found that Black male lawyers are more likely than their peers to be disciplined by the bar association.

The study, which analyzed the discipline record of 116,363 attorneys admitted to the State Bar between 1990 and 2009, included each attorney’s contact with the discipline system, all complaints received, as well as their outcomes through the end of 2018.

The study found that 46 percent of Black male attorneys having had at least one complaint filed against them during the study period, compared to only 17 percent of Asian female attorneys. Only one percent of Asian women attorneys had received 10 or more complaints. In contrast, 12 percent of Black male attorneys have received 10 or more complaints.

The study found that racial differences in discipline rates were affected mostly by the number of complaints filed, previous disciplinary actions, and lawyers who represented themselves at disciplinary hearings.

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