Black Male Lawyers Face Higher Rates of Discipline by the California State Bar Than Their Peers

A new report commissioned by the State Bar of California finds that Black male attorneys are far more likely to be targets of complaints filed by their clients that other attorneys in the state. The study, conducted by George Farkas, Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, also found that Black male lawyers are also more likely than their peers to be disciplined by the bar association.

The study analyzed the discipline record of 116,363 attorneys admitted to the State Bar between 1990 and 2009. The analysis 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 results also showed that the probation rate for Black male attorneys over this time period was 3.2 percent, compared to 0.9 percent for White male attorneys. The disbarment/resignation rate for Black male attorneys was 3.9 percent compared to 1.0 percent for White males.

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

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