Army Standards For Lawyer Discipline: Not All We Can Be

  • September 17, 2016
  • Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Mierau, Jr.

Professions require rules for the conduct of its members, and a system to enforce those rules through discipline if necessary. The Army’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, which governs the profession of law within the Army and the Army’s courts, is no exception. Although the Army JAG Corps has both rules that govern the ethical conduct of lawyers and a system to investigate and discipline lawyers that violate those rules, an analysis of the studies done at the national level with regard to lawyer discipline demonstrates that the Army has room to improve its system of lawyer discipline. This paper proposes that the Army should designate a specific duty position for the role of disciplinary investigator and then train lawyers in that duty position in the specialized area of the law governing lawyer discipline. Additionally this paper proposes that the Army should change the standard of proof in lawyer disciplinary investigations to that of clear and convincing evidence. These changes will bring the Army system into greater compliance with the national standards for lawyer discipline established by the American Bar Association, and will afford greater consistency and fairness in the Army’s disciplinary system for lawyers.