When Masah SamForay, a family attorney in Joliet, Illinois, heard that a report from the State Bar of California found it had disbarred Black lawyers at rates vastly higher than white lawyers, she wasn’t surprised. It matched what she’d seen in her own state, she said.
Unlike California, Illinois doesn’t track racial data on disciplinary actions, leaving Black lawyers there with only anecdotal evidence of unfair treatment. When it comes to tracking that data, California - and Texas - are outliers. Other U.S. jurisdictions with large lawyer populations, including New York, Florida and Washington D.C., don’t check for racial bias in attorney discipline.
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