PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION URGING THE DISCIPLINARY BOARD OF THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA TO DISCLOSE CONDUCT THAT RESULTS IN PRIVATE DISCIPLINE

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee (“Committee”) performs the valuable service of providing ethics advice to attorneys in Philadelphia; and

WHEREAS, the advice provided by the Committee is based on an interpretation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, disciplinary decisions issued by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (“Disciplinary Board”) and Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Bar Association Ethics Opinions; and

WHEREAS, the Disciplinary Board only publishes orders and opinions relating to public discipline, including disbarments, suspensions and public reprimands; and

WHEREAS, although the Disciplinary Board frequently imposes private discipline, including private reprimands and informal admonitions, it does not disclose the nature of the conduct that results in private discipline; and

WHEREAS, the Committee’s lack of access to information about conduct that may lead to private discipline impairs the ability of the Committee to provide complete and accurate ethics advice to attorneys in Philadelphia; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated its commitment to provide individualized, but consistent, discipline, the lack of access to information about conduct that may lead to private discipline impairs the ability of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to make such consistent recommendations as to discipline, diminishes the ability of practicing attorneys to avoid misconduct and harms the ability of counsel for attorneys facing disciplinary charges to properly advise their clients; and

WHEREAS, making public the conduct that results in private discipline without disclosing identifying information about clients or the attorneys receiving private discipline would enhance the fairness and transparency of the disciplinary system and would improve the ability of the Committee to provide complete and accurate ethics advice to attorneys in Philadelphia.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to make public information about the conduct that results in private discipline without disclosing identifying information about clients or the attorneys receiving private discipline.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors authorizes the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor’s designee(s) to communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association’s position to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the legal community, and the public and take whatever action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 26, 2020