Improving Legal Profession

Goal 5: Improving the Legal Profession

Goal 5: Improving the Legal Profession

The Arizona Supreme Court regulates the practice of law, ensuring that Arizona attorneys meet the highest standards of professionalism and comply with rules designed to protect the public.

During the past decade, the Arizona Supreme Court and the State Bar of Arizona have worked to improve the attorney discipline system. The Court wishes to maintain a fair and impartial discipline system, while decreasing the time and cost to process discipline cases, especially those that proceed to formal charges. Although progress has been made, more can be done to reduce processing times without compromising fairness.

The Court’s authority to regulate the practice of law also includes establishing qualifications for admission to practice law in Arizona. New and amended rules of the Supreme Court have modernized Arizona’s admission process by allowing “admission on motion” for lawyers who meet Arizona character and fitness standards and are licensed in other states that have substantially similar admission requirements.

Additionally, the Court, through its Committee on Examinations, is identifying opportunities to participate in a uniform bar examination. UBE scores will be portable to other states that give the UBE. The Court is also studying ways to streamline the character and fitness application and reference­check procedure for Arizona State Bar applicants. In addition, the Court is examining the feasibility of putting online the entire application process for admission to the Arizona State Bar.

5A Holding Lawyers Accountable

The Disciplinary Commission is a regulatory body to which citizens may bring their complaints about lawyer conduct. The transparency and continued improvement of this system is important to maintain public trust in the legal profession.

Action Plan

  • Improve the lawyer discipline system to provide a swift, fair, and cost­effective process that protects the public and preserves the professionalism of the practice of law, while affording due process to those charged:
    • Establish a task force to study the attorney discipline system,
    • Submit the task force report and recommendations to the Supreme Court,
    • Submit a rule­change petition for any needed structural or procedural changes, and
    • Implement any system changes approved by the Supreme Court.
  • Communicate to the public and the legal community the outcome of any process changes.

5B  Modernizing the Attorney Admission System

The Arizona Supreme Court governs admission to the practice of law in Arizona and authorizes exceptions to the standard examination and admission process. Modernizing the admission process by allowing admission on motion is a national trend that recognizes that the practice of law is no longer confined to the boundaries of one state. Admission on motion will make admission to the practice of law in Arizona more efficient, while ensuring that the public is protected against those attorneys who do not meet the qualifications for practice in Arizona.

As the practice of law becomes more national and transnational, state supreme courts are moving toward adopting a uniform bar examination,which will allow properly qualified attorneys to transfer their examination scores to other qualifying U.S. jurisdictions. Arizona is among the states considering the uniform bar examination.

Action Plan

  • Implement admission on motion.
  • Streamline the character and fitness process.
  • Implement an online bar application process.
  • Explore adoption of the uniform bar examination.
  • Examine how best to regulate the multijurisdictional and transnational practice of law.