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NJSBA Responds To OAE Report On Disciplinary System
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association is concerned about a reported increase in the number of lawyers sanctioned by the state Supreme Court during 2002, but at the same time gratified that the disciplinary system paid for by lawyers has effectively identified and dealt with those who have dishonored the profession. The report on lawyer discipline for calendar year 2002 was recently released by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), an arm of the Supreme Court.
NJSBA President Karol Corbin Walker said “As leader of the state’s largest bar association it pains me to see any colleague commit a misdeed, however, the public must be assured that lawyers are accountable for their actions. Due to the vigilance of our Supreme Court, the New Jersey bar continues to be one of the most closely regulated in the nation.”
However, Walker cautioned against accepting the report’s predictions for increases in the number of ethics complaints against lawyers. She noted that the percentage of lawyers disciplined, compared to the number of lawyers admitted to and actively practicing in New Jersey, has not significantly increased in the last 20 years. Walker also questioned references in the OAE report to a growing attorney population as fuel for future disciplinary complaints. While the number of attorneys admitted to practice in the state may grow to 85,000 by 2005, it is lawyers in private practice who are the primary targets of ethics complaints and that number has remained close to 30,000 for the past few years.
The NJSBA pledges to help the disciplinary system cope with a rise in the number of pending investigations in District Ethics Committees that receive and evaluate complaints about lawyers. “I will ask whether the committees need additional volunteer investigators, and if so will work to promptly produce the volunteers needed to keep the committees functioning efficiently” concluded Walker.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.
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