Dec 07, 2014
During 2006, the ARDC docketed 5,801 investigations, about a 4.6% decrease from 2005 with a total attorney population registered in Illinois for 2006 of 81,146. Those 5,801 investigations involved charges against 4,080 different attorneys, representing about 5% of all registered attorneys. About 894 or 22% of the 4,080 attorneys were the subject of more than one investigation docketed in 2006.
With multiple charges of misconduct sometimes brought against one attorney, there were approximately 8,516 charges brought, and investigated, against the 4,080 attorneys. The top six classifications of investigations accounted for the vast majority, about 75% of all investigations. The neglect of a matter accounted for 2,596, about 30%, of the charges. Next in line was the failure to communicate with a client representing 1,383 (16%) of the investigations. Fraudulent activity comprised 921 (11%) of the investigations and excessive or improper fees rounded out the top four with 827 (10%) of the investigations. Finally, at about 4% each, were improper trial conduct and improper management of client funds with 368 and 361 respectively.
The area of practice has a clear link to the number of investigations. The top areas of practice most likely to lead to a grievance of attorney misconduct are criminal law, domestic relations, tort, and real estate. The good news is that the number of investigations that result in actual filings with the supreme court is small. There were 1,319 investigations closed after just the initial review. Following an investigation, an additional 4,076 matters were closed. This resulted in only 48 filings with the supreme court and 215 complaints or impairment petitions voted. Putting this in perspective, of the 81,146 registered attorneys, less than 0.003% had action beyond an investigation taken by the ARDC and only 32 disbarred and 63 suspended.
According to the 2006 ARDC annual report, the twenty most common ethical violations include:
Each of these violations is due to the failure of an attorney to live up to his or her ethical duty and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Bibliography: ARDC 2006 Annual Report. www.iardc.org/2006AnnualReport.pdf