Legal Profession

Some States Seek to Limit Judicial Power to Regulate Lawyers

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Legislators in a handful of states are trying to limit the traditional power of their states’ supreme courts to regulate the legal profession.

In South Carolina, for instance, a Republican legislator and physician, Dr. Kristopher “Kris” Crawford, is proposing legislation that would eliminate the state supreme court’s power to regulate admission to the bar and attorney discipline, reports the National Law Journal (sub. req.). Instead, he wants to see the profession “self-regulated” by a board comprised primarily of lawyers.

Similar legislation is now being pursued in Arizona and Wisconsin, and was unsuccessfully sought last year in Missouri, Montana and Wisconsin.

The president of the South Carolina Bar said in an e-mail to the legal publication that he considers the proposed legislation there troubling.

“In order to dispense justice under the rule of law, the court system must be independent from outside influences of any kind, including the legislative and executive branches of government,” says Lanneau Wm. Lambert Jr. He is managing partner in the Columbia, S.C., office of Turner Padget Graham & Laney. He made similar comments in a letter to the editor published Sunday in Charleston’s Post and Courier.

Updated at 2:09 p.m. CT to include the Post and Courier link.

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