Admission & Discipline by the 2015 Numbers
When the Arizona Supreme Court overhauled the lawyer-discipline system effective in 2011, it created two standing committees.
One is the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee, known as ADPCC (an acronym pronounced “ad-pick”). ADPCC is kind of like the grand jury of lawyer discipline proceedings. In reviewing recommendations from the State Bar, it can choose among options, such as authorizing the State Bar to file a formal complaint against a lawyer or imposing some lower-level sanctions.
The other is the Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee, known as ARC (an acronym pronounced “ark”). The court created ARC to help it with its oversight of the practice of law. In its administrative order creating ARC, the court directed it to:
review rules governing attorney examination, admissions, reinstatement, and the disability and disciplinary process and make recommendations to the Supreme Court on how these rules of the attorney regulation system can be revised to reinforce lawyer competency and professionalism and strengthen the Supreme Court’s oversight of the regulation and practice of law in this state. The Committee may meet, conduct research, gather information, and hear public comment as it deems necessary to carry out this purpose.
ARC members include public and lawyer representatives and stakeholders in the lawyer-discipline and admissions systems. (Disclosure: I’m a charter member of ARC.)
As part of its duties, ARC produces an annual report. As an old newspaper reporter, I'm a big fan of reports and transparency. ARC's report shows important numbers from each of the significant players in the admissions and discipline processes. You can read the 2015 report here.
A few interesting statistics from the 2015 report:
**In 2000, 12,991 lawyers were licensed in Arizona. Fifteen years later, that number has almost doubled, to 23,794.
**Of the 837 lawyers admitted in 2015, 153 were admitted on motion; 635 by exam; 47 by uniform bar exam score earned elsewhere; and 2 under the special military-spouse provision.
Discipline -- State Bar:
**The State Bar received fewer bar charges ("charge" is the technical name of the report of alleged misconduct) against lawyers in 2015 than in 2014. In 2014, the State Bar received 3,549; in 2015, 3,127.
**Of those charges, in 2015, 664 were referred for an investigation, compared to 751 in 2014.
**The total number of lawyers investigated dropped in 2015 to 391, from 422 in 2014.
Discipline -- ADPCC:
**The State Bar tracks the number of charges reviewed by ADPCC. The number of charges ADPCC reviewed jumped in 2015. In 2013, it reviewed 348 charges; in 2014, 305 charges; and in 2015, 554 charges.
**Rather than the number of charges, ADPCC tracks the number of matters (defined as a State Bar action that results in an ADPCC order, and may involve multiple charges) and type of orders issued.
Total reviewed: In 2013, ADPCC reviewed 220 matters; in 2014, 289; in 2015, 413.
Probable-cause orders issued: In 2013, ADPCC issued 75 orders; in 2014, 121; in 2015, 172.
Discipline -- Presiding Disciplinary Judge (PDJ):
**The PDJ reported an “aberrational” increase in formal matters in 2015, of 97, up from 67 in 2014 and 79 in 2013. These “matters” are defined as formal complaints and pre-complaint consent agreements.
**The average time from the State Bar filing a formal complaint to the PDJ issuing a final order in all types of cases (whether contested, default or consent) has stayed relatively consistent over the past three years: 88 days in 2013; 96 days in 2014; and 91 days in 2015.
Discipline -- Supreme Court:
**Over the past three years, the number of discipline-case appeals to the Supreme Court has stayed realtively consistent: 7 in 2013; 8 in 2014; and 7 in 2015.
**Of the eight rulings issued in 2015, the court increased the sanction in two cases; decreased the sanction in one; and affirmed the sanction in five.
The current ARC chair is Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop, who also is the ADPCC chair. The first ARC chair was PDJ William O'Neil.