legal membership bodies in most countries seems to have the potential to "get in behind" and support their members better than any trade union.
I find this really insidious - I used to be a teacher in the UK and UK law now required teachers to be members of the state sponsored professional body - even to the point that the state pay the fees for teachers in full-time permanent contracts (it always annoyed me that I worked mostly on temporary contracts so I had to pay the bill personally).
Most professional bodies are little more than trade unions by another name - except that conservative politicians perceive them differently and encourage them (mainly because they become rich and power conservative bodies).
The main difference is that a trade union should (and I emphasise should because it rarely happens) represent their members' interests - in fact they usually represent some sort of political agenda more than their members, and are often part of the gravy-train syndrome.
Professional bodies are supposed to represent their profession - but what that boils down to is protecting the reputation of all lawyers/doctors etc (delete as appropriate) so that they end up defending almost any behaviour to avoid a scandal. It takes some extreme behaviour to get professional bodies to admit that a member has done something wrong and sanction them.
Ultimate both started from good and similar places but both have become corrupt because they are dominated by people who want power.
I must admit... I have a problem with some professional organisations. e.g. I fail to understand how legal "bar associations" are little more than criminal guilds. Similarly for the analogues in the medical professions. They seem seedy and underhanded to me. They are very far from appropriate in an open and free society. Ooops. Our society is neither open nor free. My bad.
I don't believe that medical guilds should represent their members' interests first. They *should* represent the well being of the "patient". But I suppose that's just my naive idealism.
Then again, I also think doctors should be paid for patients' good health, and not their bad health, which is what happens now.
So, just write me off as a kook or loon there, as my ideas are simply incompatible with what we have now.
But back on topic, sort of...
I suppose that it would be preferable for professional organizations to actually take an ethical stand, but then again, ethics is a big field and encompasses a lot. I can perfectly well see why the lawyer wasn't "punished" because the organization needs to limit what it applies to.
e.g. Is it "immoral" or "unethical" or "unprofessional" for a lawyer to be gay, or a gambling addict, or to have an abortion, or drink a lot, or...
So, that gets very murky very quickly.
For this instance, I can well see why no action was taken against the lawyer as he wasn't convicted of a criminal offense. Still... it seems bizarre.
I think this sort of illustrates how "rules" and "laws" have limits and can fail us in horrible ways.
I remember playing games when I was a kid, and I'd know the rules of the game inside and outside and upside down, and man... Did I ever abuse them. (Old role playing games like AD&D or Rifts/Palladium.) At some point, the rules just stop working.