The Standing Committee on Professional Discipline was established in 1973 to assist the judiciary and the bar in the development, coordination, and strengthening of disciplinary enforcement throughout the United States. This new emphasis on professional regulation followed publication of Problems and Recommendations in Disciplinary Enforcement (the "Clark Report") in 1970, which was produced by the Special Committee on Evaluation of Disciplinary Enforcement, chaired by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark. The Clark Report is probably the most widely quoted and influential document in the field of professional discipline and deserves much of the credit for the interest in discipline and its evolution as a legal specialty.
In 1987, the National Organization of Bar Counsel urged the Standing Committee on Professional Discipline to initiate a nationwide study to evaluate developments in professional discipline that had taken place since the Clark Report was issued two decades ago. In 1989, then ABA President Robert D. Raven appointed the Commission on Evaluation of Disciplinary Enforcement (the McKay Commission). In May 1991, the Commission issued its recommendations to meet the needs of an overburdened system of disciplinary enforcement, a changing legal profession and an increasingly involved public. In February 1992, the ABA House of Delegates considered and adopted most of these recommendations.
One of the primary ways that the Discipline Committee promotes improved lawyer and judicial disciplinary systems throughout the United States is through its program of discipline system consultations. The ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline has developed criteria adapted from the Model Rules and from the 1992 McKay Commission Report, Lawyer Regulation for a New Century. Upon invitation from a jurisdiction's highest court, the Standing Committee sends a team of individuals experienced in the field of lawyer discipline to consult regarding the structure, operation, practice and procedures of the disciplinary system. The team utilizes the Model Rules and McKay Commission Report as diagnostic tools in reviewing a lawyer disciplinary system.