The primary purpose of the WSBA is to discipline Washington lawyers. Not only does over 48% of WSBA yearly dues go to the discipline function, the major rationale for establishing the WSBA, an integrated bar, was to give lawyers the opportunity to tell the public, the people who seek lawyer services, that the WSBA was always disciplining and weeding out bad lawyers. Thus, the discipline system is a major selling point for WSBA lawyers.
The facts of how the system operates, which lawyers are targeted for discipline, the thousands of consumer calls the WSBA gets in a year, prosecution initiated by private grievance against a lawyer, the number of grievances which end up as discipline actions against lawyers, and the vast number of lawyers who do not have grievances filed against them, might lead one to wonder about the bona fides of the discipline system.
A question which might arise is this: Is the discipline system in essence a system for show? Is the institution of the system and the way it works more a public relations institution than it is a discipline system. Is the system driven by the need to impress the public that lawyers discipline themselves the true purpose of the discipline system?