A Review of Illinois Ethics and Professionalism Investigations in 2008
Posted: May 9, 2009
With a quickly growing attorney population, coupled with fewer attorneys being able to retire on schedule because of the economy; Illinois attorneys must be more vigilant than ever to maintain operations within the ethical and professional requirements of the Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. The arbiters of these requirements, the Illinois ARDC has published its 2008 Annual Report. ApexCLE has taken note of these changing trends in attorney ethics and professionalism.
As of October 31, 2008, there were 83,908 registered attorneys in Illinois. In November and December, 2,323 attorneys took the oath of office, bringing the total number of attorneys in Illinois to 86, 231 by the end of 2008.Of that number, 9,760 registered attorneys are inactive, reducing the total number of active attorneys in Illinois to 76,471 at the start of 2009.
Growth of the Profession
There were 67,121attorneys registered in Illinoisin 1995.The total in 2008 was 83,908. This is an approximately 20% increase in the total number of attorneys since 1995. The number of newly admitted attorneys increased by the same percentage (20%) since 1995, from approximately 2800 newly admitted applicants in 1995 to 3400 in 2008.
There were 52 newly admitted lawyers who failed to comply with the MCLE Basic Skills course requirement set forth in Supreme Court Rule 793 and were removed from the roll of practicing attorneys. On January 8, 2009, 680 lawyers for failure to comply with MCLE requirements and for the first time, these attorneys were removed from the master roll.
The Gender Gap:
In 2008, 66% of attorneys were male and 34% were female. In 2002, 70% were male and 30% were female. The number of male graduates from law schools is shrinking and the number of female graduates is rising, and these changes are also reflected in the increase in percentage of female attorneys and decrease in male attorneys. On average since 1995, the percentage of female attorneys changed by one percentage point every two years.
In 2004, the percentage of attorneys between the ages of 50 and 74 was 33%. In 2008, that number grew to 39%. The number of attorneys that are between the ages of 30 and 49 decreased by 7% to 51% in 2008. Since 2004, the number of attorneys between the ages of 21 and 29 grew by 1%.
The Supreme Court issued 135 sanctions against 131 lawyers in 2008. These sanctions resulted in the following disciplinary actions taken by the Court, the disbarment of 39 attorneys, suspension of 56 attorneys, 21 attorneys received probation, 17 attorneys were censured, 2 attorneys were reprimanded.
There were 5,897 investigations during 2008 that involved charges against 4,171 attorneys. Approximately one in every 50 attorneys had complaints lodged against them with the ARDC.
The most common practice areas of attorneys receiving complaints were criminal law, family law, personal injury/property damage, and estate law. Family law and Criminal law bear the largest number of complaints and remain two of the highest complained of practice areas to the ARDC.