Ethics & Professional Regulation Archives

January 29, 2007

NY Lawyer Bloggers Discuss Amended Advertising Rules

Law librarian Jim Milles of Check This Out! podcasts an update on blogging and the New York lawyer advertising rules with New York legal bloggers Bill Altreuter of Outside Counsel, Nicole Black of Sui Generis and Matt Lerner of New York Civil Law Blog.

Here is a direct link to Jim's podcast Episode 58.

February 3, 2007

Public Citizen Lawsuit Seeks Injunction Against Unconstitutional Rules

Public Citizen | Press Room - New Lawyer Advertising Rules in New York Violate Free Speech, Impede Internet Communications and Nonprofit Legal Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New rules governing lawyer advertising set to go into effect in New York violate free speech and would impose anti-consumer restrictions on lawyers’ advertising and Internet communications, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Citizen and a New York law firm.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent enforcement of New York's attorney advertising rules that are scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. The new guidelines are part of a revision of the rules contained in New York's Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers, which is designed to protect consumers by prohibiting false and misleading lawyer advertisements. The rules were released on Jan. 4 by the presiding justices of the four divisions of New York's appellate courts.


To view the lawsuit, click here.

To read more about this issue, visit the Consumer Law & Policy Blog, co-sponsored by Public Citizen’s Consumer Justice Project.

February 7, 2007

New York Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules - Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules

Accusing an American Bar Association panel of secretly watering down judicial ethics rules, the administrator of the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has resigned in protest from an ABA advisory council.

In a resignation letter released Monday, Robert H. Tembeckjian objected strenuously to what he said is a plan to diminish the thrust of an ethics precept that says judges should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." Tembeckjian said the ABA would make a "monumental mistake" if, as proposed, it relegates the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" provision to an unenforceable guideline.

Currently, under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which many states use as a template for their own rules, judges who violate the provision are subject to disciplinary action. But a revision inserted into a updated code and slated for consideration by the ABA next week would change that so the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" admonition would no longer constitute a rule. Rather, it would simply be a guideline.


Read full text of article by John Caher via NY Law Journal.

February 14, 2007

“Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”

This presentation will be held in the Great Hall of the New York City Bar on the evening of February 22, 2007. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is free and will provide CLE ethics credits for attendees.

The presentation will be the public introduction of the newly adopted Rules of Conduct and is open to the legal community, but is specifically aimed at providing information to the City’s administrative law judges and hearing officers now covered by the Rules effective February 13, 2007.

The program is co-sponsored by the Office of the Administrative Justice Coordinator, the Administrative Judicial Institute at OATH, and the New York City Bar's Committees on Administrative Law, Government and Ethics, and Litigation. The presentation will provide a basic overview of the Rules and their purpose, highlight key provisions and important obligations, and allow time for questions and answers.

To register, please contact Frank Ng at 212-442-4941 or by email:

For Full Text of Rules of Conduct, see extended entry:

Continue reading " “Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”" »

February 19, 2007


Respondent (attorney) charged with neglect of legal matters and failure to communicate with clients. Respondent moved to stay disciplinary proceeding to permit him to enter the alcohol and substance abuse program of the New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), to which petitioner consented. LAP is a recognized diversion program under 22 NYCRR 806.4(g). Stay granted until such time as respondent either successfully completes rehabilitation or commits additional misconduct.

Matter of Anonymous.

February 20, 2007

IRS: Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams IR-2007-37, Feb. 20, 2007

WASHINGTON-- The Internal Revenue Service today identified 12 of the most blatant scams affecting American taxpayers and warned people not to fall for schemes peddled by scamsters.

This year the 'Dirty Dozen' highlights five new scams that IRS auditors and criminal investigators have uncovered. Topping off the list are fraudulent refunds being claimed in connection with the special Telephone Excise Tax Refund available to most taxpayers this filing season. The IRS is actively investigating instances of this scam involving tax preparers who are preparing inflated refund requests.

Also new to the Dirty Dozen this year are abuses pertaining to Roth IRAs, the American Indian Employment Credit, domestic shell corporations and structured entities.

"Taxpayers shouldn't let their guard down," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. "Don't get taken by scam artists making outrageous promises. If you use a tax professional, pick someone who is reputable. Taxpayers should remember they are ultimately responsible for what is on their tax return even if some unscrupulous preparers have steered them in the wrong direction."

Involvement in tax schemes leads to problems for scam artists and taxpayers. Tax return preparers and promoters risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes:

March 9, 2007

Editorial: Buffalo News--State underfunding deprives poor of equal justice

Buffalo News: Another Voice

Updated: 03/09/07 6:51 AM

 By Stephen R. Lamantia

Nearly a decade ago, New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye stated: "A justice system that allows disparities in justice based on the ability to pay is inconsistent with a fundamental principle of our free democratic society ' equal justice for all.'" Sadly, New York State, which prides itself as the birthplace of legal services for the poor, now ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to funding civil legal services for its low-income population. More than 80 percent of the most basic civil legal needs of New York's low-income population are not being met. These are in such critical areas as elder care, child care assistance, health care services, domestic violence and housing and human rights. The primary reason is lack of adequate state funding.


Read Full Text of Editorial


Stephen R. Lamantia is president of the Bar Association of Erie County.


NYSBA | Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)

The New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) provides education and confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law school students, and immediate family members who are affected by the problem of substance abuse, stress, or depression. Its goal is to assist in the prevention, early identification and intervention of problems that can affect professional conduct and quality of life.

March 13, 2007 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys
Mark HamblettNew York Law Journal03-13-2007

The 2nd Circuit has formed a new committee to handle grievances against attorneys, a move officials said signals a more proactive role in evaluating ethics issues.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs announced Monday a seven-person committee that will be charged with what he called the "vital" function of investigating and filing recommendations on disciplinary matters that are referred to it by the court.

(full text of article)

March 15, 2007

COSAC Rule Proposals--Comments Needed

Here below are links to the full text of proposed rules to be presented at the June House of Delegates meeting:

Rule 1.7

Rule 1.8

Rule 1.9

Rule 1.10

The deadline for comments is May 25, 2007. Seth Rosner is the contact person for comments. His telephone number is 518-587-4802 and his e-mail is

May 17, 2007

NYSBA: Attorney Advertising Regulations as of February 1 - now with Frequently Asked Questions

NYSBA | Home

The New York State Unified Court System has new attorney advertising regulations, which went into effect February 1, 2007. As a service to its members, NYSBA has compiled a brief summary of the most significant changes, as well as a redlined version of the regulations, indicating how the amendments have changed the Code of Responsibility. A summary of Frequently Asked Questions also is available. Click the links below to review the changes:

Synopsis of Changes to Code of Professional Responsibility (PDF)

Redlined Version of Advertising Regulations(PDF)

Press Release Announcing Changes

Frequently Asked Questions About Changes to Lawyer Advertising Rules(PDF)

May 23, 2007

2D Circuit Rules Judge Should Have Recused Self Over Judge's Mortgage Application Prepared By Cooperating Witness in Mortgage Fraud Case

US v. Amico, No. 03-1737

Convictions and sentences on charges arising from a mortgage fraud scheme are vacated as the district judge's handling of, and reaction to, his prior dealings with the government's main cooperating witness concerning a mortgage application for the judge created an appearance of partiality and recusal was required.

May 31, 2007

Boston Globe: Blogging defendant unmasked as "Flea"-settles case.

Blogger unmasked, court case upended - The Boston Globe

By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | May 31, 2007

It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.
As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question. Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.


Entire article from BOSTON GLOBE

June 7, 2007 - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees-16%- Found to Be Excessive - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees Found to Be Excessive

Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
June 7, 2007

A requirement in a retainer agreement compelling a client to pay 16 percent interest on unpaid fees is excessive and unenforceable, a Nassau County, N.Y., judge has ruled.

Instead, the client must pay interest on the unpaid fees at a rate of 9 percent, the amount of interest allowed by statute to be collected, both pre- and post-judgment, on amounts found collectible by courts, Nassau District Court Judge Gary F. Knobel ruled in Kutner v. Antonacci, 36363/06.


entire article from

July 24, 2007 - N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

Finds state failed to prove that ban on certain content advanced goal of protecting public from misleading ads

Anthony Lin
New York Law Journal (Read entire article)
July 24, 2007

A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional most of the sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising introduced earlier this year by the New York courts.

The restrictions, which went into effect Feb. 1, had barred lawyers from, among other practices, using nicknames that suggest an ability to obtain results or touting "characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence."

Alexander & Catalano, the Syracuse, N.Y., personal injury firm that challenged the constitutionality of the advertising restrictions, had previously run ads calling its lawyers "heavy hitters" and showing them towering over downtown office buildings or sprinting at impossible speeds to help clients.

The four presiding justices of New York's Appellate Division, who are charged with overseeing attorney discipline, first unveiled proposed restrictions on attorney advertising last June to address concern that outrageous and aggressive lawyer ads were misleading the public as well as harming the image of the profession.

But Northern District of New York Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled that the state had largely failed to show that its wholesale prohibitions of certain kinds of content had advanced its interest in protecting the public from misleading lawyer advertisements. Moreover, he said, the state had failed to show less onerous means could not achieve the same ends.

"Defendants have failed to produce any evidence that measures short of categorical bans would not have sufficed to remedy the perceived risks of such advertising being misleading," the judge wrote in Alexander & Catalano v. Cahill, 07 Civ. 117. "There is nothing in the record to suggest that a disclaimer would have been ineffective."


Along with the bans on nicknames and nonlegal characteristics, prohibitions on active client testimonials, portrayals of judges and fictitious law firms and the use of Internet pop-up ads were also struck down as unconstitutional in Scullin's decision.


July 25, 2007

"CL&P Blog: New York's Attorney Advertising Rules Held Unconstitutional"

New York's Attorney Advertising Rules Held Unconstitutional

The Northern District of New York ruled July 23rd, 2007 that New York's amended rules against attorney advertising are unconstitutional and permanently enjoined enforcement of most of the challenged provisions. The court agreed with Public Citizen's argument that the state had not shown that the rules were necessary to help consumers and were not narrowly tailored to the state's asserted purpose. In fact, the rules restricted truthful advertising that would benefit consumers.

August 8, 2007 - Lack of Retainer Leads Court to Order Firm to Return Fees Beyond Contingency - Lack of Retainer Leads Court to Order Firm to Return Fees Beyond Contingency-Anthony Lin--NY Law Journal--8/08/07

"A client retaining an attorney on a contingent basis, in the absence of clear and express language to the contrary, contemplates that the percentage fixed is to constitute payment for whatever services may be necessary to obtain collection of any judgment which may be recovered, whether the services be in connection with an appeal taken from the judgment or in connection with efforts to collect the judgment, or both," the judge wrote in Siagha v. Katz & Associates, 603927/05.

She noted that there had only been one retainer agreement filed with the Office of Court Administration in the case, a standard form filed by Schwartz Gutstein. The judge also noted that none of the lawyers who actually represented Siagha had ever taken the step of obtaining a retainer agreement specific to the case. They also never wrote him a letter or e-mail describing or discussing their legal fees.


August 16, 2007 - Closing Attorneys See Red Over HomeBanc Mortgage's Bad Checks - Closing Attorneys See Red Over HomeBanc Mortgage's Bad Checks

Real estate attorneys caught between covering bounced checks or risking bar violations after company files for bankruptcy

Andy Peters
Fulton County Daily Report
August 16, 2007

John K. Haley, a real estate closing attorney in Buford, Ga., left work July 31 thinking the HomeBanc mortgages he'd closed earlier that day had cleared.

That turned out not to be true. Haley was one of dozens of Atlanta-area real estate closing attorneys who received bounced checks last month from HomeBanc Mortgage Corp. Lawyers estimate HomeBanc may have issued $20 million or more in bounced checks July 30 and July 31. HomeBanc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 9.

Because HomeBanc's primary lender, JPMorgan Chase, stopped financing the company around the end of July, HomeBanc could no longer provide funds on the mortgages it had sold. That caused a big problem for some lawyers: HomeBanc had already issued checks to these lawyers, who then disbursed the money to sellers, real estate agents, surveyors and others.

That left numerous lawyers high and dry.

"These lawyers are really scrambling right now," said C. Scott Logan, president of the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association.

While the state's "good funds" law requires lawyers to wait until checks have cleared the bank before closing a mortgage, in practice most real estate closing attorneys close mortgages when they have the check in hand, without waiting for the money to clear, Logan said.

In addition to being stuck with thousands, if not millions of dollars in bounced checks, these lawyers also worry they may have violated State Bar of Georgia rules. That's because they could have disbursed money from an escrow account when the money really wasn't there, creating a negative balance. It's a violation of Bar rules for a lawyer to have a negative balance in an escrow account.


Read Entire Article

August 23, 2007

FOLLOWUP: - Lawyers Learn From HomeBanc's Demise - Lawyers Learn From HomeBanc's Demise

Closing attorneys vow to accept only wire transfers after dealing with lender's bounced checks
Andy Peters
Fulton County Daily Report (full text)
August 23, 2007

Even though a bankruptcy judge in Delaware this week saved them from financial ruin, real estate closing attorneys said they learned a powerful lesson from the collapse of HomeBanc Corp. -- never accept anything but a wire transfer at closing.

At least a dozen Atlanta-area law firms received bounced checks from HomeBanc last month, before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 9. By HomeBanc's count, it bounced 134 checks worth at least $18 million, but the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association estimates the figure was $28 million.

Assuming HomeBanc's checks were backed by sufficient funds, lawyers had disbursed the money at closings -- not only to the home's seller and the previous mortgage holder, but also to agents for their commissions and to surveyors, court clerks and others whose payments occur at closing.

When the checks bounced, lawyers had to scramble to find ways to cover their positions. Some took out home equity loans, others filed claims on their Errors & Omissions insurance policies.

On Tuesday, the bankruptcy judge handling HomeBanc transferred ownership of the loans to the closing attorneys. This move lets the lawyers recover their money by selling the loans to banks or other mortgage lenders.

The bounced checks occurred as a result of HomeBanc getting squeezed by broad turmoil in the U.S. housing market and the global credit market. As the market tanked, HomeBanc's primary source of funds, JPMorgan Chase, on Aug. 6 cut off money for the mortgages HomeBanc sold, according to HomeBanc's court filings.

Regardless of the problems in the market, attorneys said the rubber check problem could have been prevented simply by requiring HomeBanc to fund its loans with wire transfers.

As a result, "some law firms are requiring 100 percent wired funds from everybody -- lenders, buyers, even other attorneys," said closing attorney Jennifer L. Dickenson of Dickenson Gilroy. "There is a really high sensitivity right now to how we get the money into our accounts."

Why HomeBanc was allowed to fund mortgages with company checks, when the large majority of other mortgage lenders paid only by wire transfer, speaks to the clout HomeBanc carried in metro Atlanta -- if not its level of intimidation.

"They were big enough they could frankly bully everybody," said Jeffrey P. Ganek, managing partner of Ganek, Wright & Dobkin's Midtown office. "You had to follow their rules."

HomeBanc, or any mortgage lender, benefits by funding loans with checks as opposed to wire transfers, Ganek said. While wire transfers represent an immediate shift in money, checks take days to clear a bank, allowing HomeBanc to earn more interest on the money as it sat in escrow, Ganek said.

"Even if it's only a day or two extra it's sitting in an interest-bearing account, if you're doing enough loans, it's a lot of money," he said.


Read Entire Article

August 27, 2007 N.Y. Appellate Panel Finds Dead Man's Law Applies in Disciplinary Matter - N.Y. Appellate Panel Finds Dead Man's Law Applies in Disciplinary Matter

In a 4-1 decision, the appellate panel ruled that the Dead Man's Statute did apply to a disciplinary proceeding, noting that the very language of the statute said it applied to "the hearing upon the merits of a special proceeding."

The majority of Justices David B. Saxe, Luis A. Gonzalez and James M. Catterson said the situation In the Matter of Zalk, M-6672, clearly fit the elements of the statute and thus prevented Zalk from arguing that Gellman made an oral pledge to him. The court said it was therefore compelled to find that Zalk improperly converted client escrow funds.


Read Entire Article

November 7, 2007 - N.Y. Bar Panel Urges Adoption of New Conduct Rules

Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal (read Entire Article)
November 7, 2007

Attorneys in New York state are a step closer to becoming the last Bar in the United States to have rules of ethical behavior based in form and substance on the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

The New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates last Saturday unanimously approved revisions that are designed to transform New York's current Code of Professional Responsibility into new state Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

It took the State Bar's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct nearly five years to produce the almost 500 pages of proposed rules, which will now be sent to the appellate division's presiding justices for review and possible final adoption.


December 4, 2007 - N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements - N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements

N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements
Argues commercial speech can be limited
Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal
December 4, 2007

A Northern District of New York federal judge failed to recognize the limits the U.S. Supreme Court has placed on commercial free speech when he ruled that most of New York state's new restrictions on attorney advertisements are unconstitutional, the state is arguing on appeal.

Promotional activities that the guidelines seek to prohibit are not protected by the First Amendment and U.S. Judge Frederick J. Scullin "erred" when he found them unconstitutional, the attorney general's office contends in its brief to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ad restrictions were challenged by a Syracuse, N.Y., lawyer, his firm Alexander & Catalano, and a public advocacy group. The 2nd Circuit has tentatively scheduled oral arguments for March to hear an appeal of Scullin's determination.

The ad guidelines imposed starting Feb. 1, 2007, seek to bar flamboyant promotional techniques such as lawyers referring to themselves as "heavy hitters" or other monikers that suggest an ability to deliver special results. Other prohibitions struck down by Scullin barred active clients from giving testimonials, portrayals of judges and the use of Internet pop-up ads on Web sites other than the firm's own site.

The brief before the 2nd Circuit defending the ad guidelines, written by Assistant Solicitor General Owen Demuth, also asks that a permanent injunction issued by Scullin in July prohibiting enforcement of the allegedly constitutionally infirm sections be lifted.


Read entire article

December 7, 2007

NYSBA Ethics Opinion 817

The Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar Association on November 2, 2007, issued Opinion 817. According to the "Digest" of the Opinion, the Committee has taken the position that "participation in [a] residential real estate transaction that includes a 'seller's concession' and [a] 'grossed up' sale price is prohibited unless the transaction is entirely lawful, the gross-up is disclosed in the transaction documents and no parties are misled to their detriment".

Read Opinion 817.


Thanks to Mike Berry at the Real Property Section Blog, which is well worth your attention.

March 29, 2008

Legal Ease Blog: Do Something! Review Your Retainer Agreement

Aside from your jurisdiction's ethical rules, the single most important document that defines your relationship with your client is your retainer agreement or engagement letter. When was the last time you reviewed your agreement?

Here are some essential elements to include in your retainer agreement:

1. Scope of work: Does your agreement accurately and specifically reflect the work you will perform for the client (and the work you won't perform under the agreement?) If you're retained for a litigation matter, does your retainer agreement include working on an appeal? Does preparation of a will for a client include a health care proxy, living will and durable power of attorney, or are will those services require a separate agreement (and a separate fee)?

2. A time limitation. Don't leave yourself open for problems with clients that fail to return your retainer agreement. Your agreement should state specifically that the provisions contained within it (including the fee) are only valid if the agreement iss signed within a specific period of time (i.e. 2 weeks. one month, etc.) Make it clear that if the agreement (and retainer fee) are not received within that period of time, you are not obligated to represent the client.


Read the rest of this retainer review at Legal Ease Blog and for help reviewing your retainer agreement and/or other forms or procedures in your office, feel free to contact Allison Shields, the author.

April 3, 2008

RSVP for NDNY Admissions Ceremony, CLE & Luncheon on 4/10/08

Dear NDNY Member:

You are cordially invited to attend an admissions ceremony and free CLE program at the U.S. District Courthouse in Syracuse on Thursday, April 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The CLE topic is "Removal Jurisdiction - Making it a Federal Case" (1.5 hrs. CLE credit).

A complimentary luncheon at Pascale's Restaurant with members of the Federal Judiciary will follow the CLE program.

Please see the invitation for additional details:

For CLE registration and lunch reservations, please RSVP by April 7th by e-mailing

Board of Directors
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

May 13, 2008

Advisory Opinion on Judicial Compensation 4/24/08

Albany Times Union (Jay Jochnowitz): Pay raise suit no excuse for judges

New York's judges can't refuse to hear cases involving state lawmakers or legislators' law firms because Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the Unified Court System are suing the Legislature for a judicial pay hike, the Commission on Judicial Conduct said Monday. Moreover, the panel warned, it wouldn't help the judiciary's image if the commission has to look into instances of judges bowing out of cases involving lawmakers or their firms. A commission spokesman would not say whether any judges are under investigation for refusing to hear such cases. The issue came to the fore in recent weeks after various judges around the state started citing conflicts of interest because of Kaye's battle with the Legislature.
Full Text of Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinion

May 14, 2008

Perils of Part-timers' Public Pensions Persist

Albany Times Union (Rick Karlin): Class-action lawsuit in state pension cases?

An Albany lawyer is preparing a class-action lawsuit to try to stop Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from stripping pension credits from lawyers who state officials say don't deserve them. The lawsuit will likely be filed later this week in state Supreme Court in Albany County and will seek restraining orders against Cuomo and DiNapoli, said lawyer James Roemer, who specializes in public sector employment issues. While he wouldn't immediately divulge details of his legal strategy or name the initial plaintiffs, Roemer said he's representing four individuals from Long Island who have lost pension credits during the past few weeks.


UPDATE: Roemer has a web site for the class action suit Save New York State Retirement Benefits.


Albany Times Union (Fred LeBrun Column): Cuomo pension probe tinged with a certain lack of fair play

On the best of days, elevating the reputation of lawyers in general is too heavy a lift for one mere columnist. And these are certainly not the best of days for the image of the legal profession, thanks in great measure to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his zealous rooting out of lawyers who may have gotten public retirement benefits for which they were not eligible. That Cuomo is himself a lawyer, and the First Lawyer of the state to boot, must be disconcerting at the least to the lawyer community. Particularly because the brush with which he's tarring a wide range of attorneys who don't deserve it is usually the stuff of spiteful lawyer-bashing. Hasn't Andrew heard all those professional courtesy jokes?

May 19, 2008

Swergold, v. Andrew F. Cuomo,

Operation Pushback has begun.

This class action suit was filed May 15, 2008. It will include all current members of the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and all current retirees from the ERS in all Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4, who have rendered part-time annually salaried service, whether elected or by appointment, to any participating employer in the ERS.

Swergold, v. Andrew F. Cuomo,, Index No. 3897-08 NYS Supreme Court- Albany County

Pleadings and Briefs

Documents filed on Thursday, May 15, 2008:

Summons and Complaint

Exhibits to Summons and Complaint

June 17, 2008

Part 36 Appointment System Web Page

Fiduciary Home Page

As a public service, the NYS Unified Court System is making available the public information included in its Part 36 databases on the internet.

This availability also fulfills the obligation of the Chief Administrator to publish the names of all persons and entities appointed by each appointing judge, and the compensation approved for each appointee pursuant to Section 36.5 of the Rules of the Chief Judge.

Searchable by eligible lists, notices of appointment, and approved compensation.

July 18, 2008

Swergold v. Cuomo/Hill v. Cuomo

Save New York State Retirement

New documents have now been added to the Swergold v. Cuomo portion of the Pleadings and Briefs section. In addition, they are now providing the motion and other information for the new action Hill v. Cuomo.

August 12, 2008

Maximum Sanctions Imposed for Failure to Return Down Payment

Astrada v Archer (2008 NY Slip Op 51675(U))

In this matter, resulting from a real estate transaction that never closed, the Court, pursuant to 22 NYCRR ァ 130-1.1 (a), awards costs of $40,600.50 to plaintiff Faith Astrada and imposes the maximum sanction of $10,000.00 upon defendant Regina Felton, Esq., for her "frivolous conduct" that "is completely without merit in law," in violation of 22 NYCRR ァ 130-1:1 (c).
Click on link above to read entire decision.
Hat Tip to NY Law Journal

August 27, 2008

ABA Approves Legal Outsourcing

Ethics Opinion 08-451, dated Aug. 5 but announced by the ABA yesterday, states that sending legal work overseas is ethically permissible as long as the lawyer doing the outsourcing takes steps to ensure the protection of client confidences and preservation of attorney-client privilege. The advisory also states that attorneys should check to make sure that foreign lawyers are suitably trained and competent and that bills for outsourced work be reasonable.


Read entire analysis at NY Law Journal

September 23, 2008

Disbarred Attorneys May Not Work As Paralegals in Law Offices

Matter of Hancock (2008 NY Slip Op 06991)

....the record reveals that the respondent afforded so little regard to his law license as to allow a disbarred felon to use his name freely on court papers and to advertise himself as his paralegal. In addition, the respondent knowingly made a misrepresentation to this Court during the course of oral argument. Under the circumstances, the respondent is disbarred.

Read entire article from NY Law Journal (Free registration)

September 26, 2008

Time to Review Your Retainer Agreement

McCORD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, 106136 (full text)

McCORD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-029-038, Claim No. 106136, Motion No. M-75505


Attorney’s motion to be relieved as counsel denied. His desire to avoid advancing the costs of trial, specifically $20,000.00 in expert witness fees, was not sufficient grounds to be relieved since the retainer agreement did not require claimants to advance such costs.

Read NYLJ article.

December 17, 2008

New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

The New York Law Journal - New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

By Joel Stashenko
December 17, 2008

ALBANY - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and the four presiding Appellate Division justices have formally adopted a new set of attorney ethics rules that proponents say brings New York lawyers in line with their counterparts in most of the rest of the country.

The Rules of Professional Conduct (full text) align ethics standards in form and numbering sequence with the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. That change will make it easier for New York attorneys to reference ethics rules and advisory and legal opinions nationwide when researching issues, supporters of the new rules say.

"It is a tremendous relief to now speak the same language as the rest of the country," said Steven C. Krane, chairman of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct, which proposed the revisions. "The code is dead. Long live the rules."

Starting April 1, 2009, the Rules of Professional Conduct will replace the New York Code of Professional Responsibility.

January 23, 2009

The New York Law Journal - Circuit Skeptical Over Restoration Of Rules Curbing Content of Ads

By Daniel Wise
January 23, 2009

Questioning from a panel of federal appeals judges yesterday swamped the state's primary argument for reinstating a series of restrictions on lawyer advertising that were enjoined in July.
Read the full article here.

February 2, 2009

Practice Management and the New York Rules of Professional Conduct

Find out how the new rules affect your practice

CLE Teleconference
2.0 MCLE Credits in Ethics*
Presented by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

$85.00 for NYSBA Members $125.00 for non-members.

February 18, 2009

Practice Management and the New Rules of Professional Conduct

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sponsored by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section

Practice Management and the New Rules of Professional Conduct
CLE Teleconference

Find out how the new rules affect your practice

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

Professor Gary Munneke

Marian Rice, Esq.
Thomas Rice, Esq.

On April 1, 2009, the New York Rules of Professional Conduct will replace the existing Disciplinary Rules. In addition to adoption of ABA Model Rules Format, the new rules bring changes that affect the manner in which you manage your law firm or practice on your own. Learn the overall format of the newly enacted Rules and how the Rules:

Significantly change the manner in which a conflict of interest should be analyzed and resolved;

Alter the existing rules on the relationship between attorney and client and the allocation of authority in the attorney client relationship;

Impact upon the current letters of engagement rules and the circumstances under which attorneys may agree to a division of fees;

Set forth the attorney's responsibilities and duties to prospective clients who have not engaged the attorney;

Affect the current definitions of attorney-client communications;

Delineate the role of an attorney when dealing with a client of diminished capacity;

Permit, under certain circumstances,evaluations to one other than the client;

Define the role of the lawyer as a third party neutral;

Specify an attorney's obligations before a tribunal;

Expand an attorney's obligation in speaking with unrepresented parties;

Include direction on the inadvertent receipt of documents and respect for the rights of third persons; and

Set forth aspirational goals for pro bono service.

register at

March 18, 2009 - Lawyer May Collect Fee Despite Billing Slip-Up - Lawyer May Collect Fee Despite Billing Slip-Up

Vesselin Mitev
New York Law Journal
March 18, 2009

A divorce attorney who failed to bill his client at statutory 60-day intervals can still collect a fee for his services, a New York state judge has ruled.

"Although an attorney's failure to provide itemized bills at least every 60 days will preclude collection of a fee for services rendered ... where there has been 'substantial compliance' with the rules, recovery of fees has been allowed," Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Mark I. Partnow held in Edelstein v. Greisman, 18848/08.

April 1, 2009

NY--New Rules of Professional Conduct

Effective April 1, 2009

The new Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys go into effect today. These rules replace New York's Code of Professional Responsibility with the model rule format that is currently used throughout the nation. The new rules are designed to assist attorneys in understanding their ethical responsibilities to clients, courts and the legal profession.

For more information on these rule changes, and how they will impact practicing attorneys, please visit Visitors can view a complete listing of the new rules and a chart that displays how the new rules compare with the previous Code of Professional Responsibility.

The State Bar Association also will host several CLE programs statewide to help attorneys become more familiar with the new Rules of Professional Conduct. Additional information on these programs can be found at

April 15, 2009

American Legal Process Charged with "Sewer Service"

The New York Law Journal - Court Papers Went Undelivered; Process Server Faces Charges

A company hired to serve debt collection lawsuits to thousands of cash-strapped New Yorkers did not bother to deliver the papers much of the time, leaving many people unaware they had been sued until the case was over and their bank accounts were frozen, authorities said yesterday.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed criminal fraud charges against the firm, American Legal Process, of Lynbrook, and its owner and president, William Singler.


Read entire article here.

May 18, 2009

State Bar Complaints Filed Against "Torture Memo" Lawyers

VELVETREVOLUTION.US : The DisbarTortureLawyers Campaign

On Monday, May 18, 2009, a broad coalition of organizations (Velvet Revolution.US), filed disciplinary complaints with state bar licensing boards against John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington for advocating the torture of detainees during the Bush Administration.

These detailed complaints, with over 500 pages of supporting exhibits, have been filed with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, and they seek disciplinary action and disbarment. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available here, together with links to the released torture memos:

The Released Torture Memos

May 27, 2009

Practice Mang. & the New Rules of Prof. Conduct--6/10/09

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
- Location -
Find out how the new rules affect your practice

12:00- 2:00 p.m.

2.0 MCLE Credits in Ethics

Presented by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section


Professor Gary Munneke


Marian Rice, Esq.

Thomas Rice, Esq.

On April 1, 2009 the New Rules of Professional Conduct replaced the existing Disciplinary Rules. In addition to adoption of ABA Model Rules Format, the new rules bring changes that affect the manner in which you manage your law firm or practice on your own.

Please note that newly admitted attorneys cannot receive credit for participation in CLE teleconferences or webinars.

To view the 2009 CLE live program schedule, go to

The last day to pre-register online is June 9, 2009. Register online now

Members, please login to get member discounts.

Continue reading "Practice Mang. & the New Rules of Prof. Conduct--6/10/09" »

July 23, 2009 - ABA Plans for Litigation Over FTC Rules on Identity Theft - ABA Plans for Litigation Over FTC Rules on Identity Theft

The president of the American Bar Association said Wednesday that the group is preparing to go to court if it cannot persuade the Federal Trade Commission to exempt lawyers from new regulations to protect against identity theft.

H. Thomas Wells Jr. said in an interview that the New York-based firm Proskauer Rose has signed up to represent the ABA pro bono. The trade commission is scheduled to begin enforcing the regulations Aug. 1, and Wells said the bar association would file a lawsuit by the end of next week if necessary to head off enforcement.

"If they stay with the Aug. 1 date and we don't get some kind of sign, we'll be filing before Aug. 1," said Wells, a partner at Maynard Cooper & Gale in Birmingham, Ala.


Read entire article.

NAF Barred from Credit card & Consumer Arbitrations

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Swanson Also Wants Congress to Ban "Fine Print"€ Forced Arbitration Clauses

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and the National Arbitration Forum, €”the country'€™s largest administrator of credit card and consumer collections arbitrations, €”have reached an agreement that the company would get out of the business of arbitrating credit card and other consumer collection disputes.

           " €œI am very pleased with the settlement.  To consumers, the company said it was impartial, but behind the scenes, it worked alongside credit card companies to get them to put unfair arbitration clauses in the fine print of their contracts and to appoint the Forum as the arbitrator.  Now the company is out of this business,"€ said Swanson.


Read entire Press Release from Minnesota AG


Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi, who looks at the implications of this move and the connections to collections industry giant Mann-Bracken..

August 27, 2009

Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

The New York Law Journal - ; Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

By Vesselin Mitev
August 27, 2009

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli improperly revoked the $106,000 annual pension of a Long Island lawyer, an Albany judge has ruled in ordering the state to restore the benefit.

The state violated Albert D'Agostino's due process rights by "depriving him of continuing retirement benefits prior to granting him a hearing and by failing to provide adequate notice" of the case against him, Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly ruled in D'Agostino v. DiNapoli, 8134-08.

October 30, 2009 - Judge Rules FTC Cannot Make Lawyers Comply With Identity Theft Laws

The Federal Trade Commission cannot force practicing lawyers to comply with new regulations aimed at curbing identity theft, a federal judge ruled Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Read article-National law Journal.

December 11, 2009

NYTIMES: For Judges on Facebook, Friendship Has Limits

Facebook Friendship? It’s Complicated for Judges and Lawyers -

Published: December 10, 2009
Judges and lawyers in Florida can no longer be Facebook friends.

In a recent opinion, the state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee decided it was time to set limits on judicial behavior online. When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”


Read entire article.

January 8, 2010

Unbundling Discussion

Two Chief Justices Have One Word of Advice for Solos: Unbundling - News - ABA Journal

Unbundled legal services are one way to close a justice gap that is growing as more people find themselves unable to afford a lawyer, according to the chief justices of the California and New Hampshire supreme courts.

However, solo practice lawyers do not agree, if one takes the comments which follow this article as any indication. These comments are well worth reading for a real sense of the discussion on this current practice issue.

February 26, 2010

Law Firms Swindled Out of $500K in E-Mail Scam

Law Firms Swindled Out of $500K in E-Mail Scam - News - ABA Journal

Two law firms in Honolulu were scammed out of $500,000 in an e-mail scheme that's apparently targeting the legal community.

During the past six weeks, six different law firms have been targeted, according to the FBI, which issued a warning today (PDF). Two of the six fell for the scheme and lost a total of $500,000.


Hat Tip to ABA Journal--click here to see related coverage.

March 3, 2010

NYLJ: Paterson Charged With Ethics Violation Over World Series Tickets

;Free Breaking News:</font> Paterson Charged With Ethics Violation Over World Series Tickets

The state Commission on Public Integrity said today that there is reasonable cause to believe that the governor had accepted five $425 tickets from the New York Yankees as a gift in violation of Public Officers Law Ё73(5)(a)(b).

Read the commission's Notice of Reasonble Cause.

March 12, 2010

Second Circuit Rejects Most Of Attorney Advertising Rules

Second Circuit Rejects Most Of Attorney Advertising Rules

"The speech that Defendants' content-based restrictions seeks to regulate—that which is irrelevant, unverifiable, and non-informational—is not inherently false, deceptive, or misleading. Defendants' own press release described its proposed rules as protecting consumers against 'potentially misleading ads,'" the panel wrote in Alexander v. Cahill, 07-3677-cv, 07-3900- cv.

The Second Circuit decision appears on page 17 of the print edition of today's Law Journal

The ruling primarily affirms the July 2007 decision by Northern District Judge Frederick J. Scullin.

Courtesy of NYLJ--Noeleen G. Walder--Read full NYLJ article/breaking news.

March 19, 2010

Lawyers Helping Lawyers: In Good Times and Bad

Thursday, March 25, 2010
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (registration at 5:30 p.m.)

LaTourelle Resort and Spa
1150 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY

The program is FREE to all attorneys, but pre-registration is required. Dinner is included.

This program has been approved for 2.0 MCLE credits in Ethics for all attorneys, including both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Co-sponsored by
The Tompkins County and Broome County Bar Associations; Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committees of Broome, Tompkins, Cortland, Chemung and Tioga Counties; and the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program. This program is funded through a grant from the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust.

Program Description
Presenters will share their perspectives on practicing law in a manner that enhances and integrates mental, emotional and spiritual health and development of community.

5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Registration
6:00 – 6:15 p.m. Introduction
Mariette Geldenhuys, Esq., Mariette Geldenhuys Attorney at Law
6:15 – 6:40 p.m. A Lawyer’s Family Story of Depression
Hon. Michael J. Miller (Ret.)
Hinda Miller
6:40 – 7:05 p.m. A Lawyer’s Story of Alcoholism
Lenore Le Fevre, Esq.
7:05 – 7:30 p.m. Lawyers Helping Lawyers (panel discussion)
Hon. John C. Rowley, Tompkins County Court Judge
Charles Oliver Wolff, Esq., Law Office of Charles Oliver Wolff
Richard M. Wallace, Esq., Guttman & Wallace
7:30 – 7:55 p.m.
Lawyers Assistance Program
Paul Curtin, Outreach Coordinator, 4th Department New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program

7:55 – 8:00 p.m. Questions and Answers
For registration or additional Information please contact Sindy Garey, Director of the Broome County Bar Association

*** The meeting location includes a Spa and is offering a 15% discount on Spa services for attendees and a special $99.00/night room rate as well. For information on Spa services and reservations, go to

April 14, 2010

Calls for State Insurance Threaten Property Transfers

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Adam Leitman Bailey and Dov Treiman

Adam Leitman Bailey, founding partner of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., and Dov Treiman, a partner at the firm, write:

Currently before the State Legislature are two bills that would inject the state in the business of title insurance, damaging New York's standing as the capital of real estate transactions. One would broaden the power of the State Insurance Fund to provide a State alternative to the current private system of title insurance. The other would create a new state title authority for the same purpose. Many real estate attorneys see these bills as a threat, both to the heart of the safe transfer of real estate and to the capitalist system itself.

Read the full text of this article here.

April 21, 2010

NDNY: Attorney Admission Ceremony & CLE

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 9:30 a.m.

Attorney Admission Ceremony & CLE

“Take it to the Limit?: Effective Advocacy & the Ethical Boundaries of
Witness Preparation”
(1.5 Hours, 1.0 Ethics & Professionalism; 0.5 Skills)
James Hanley Federal Building & Courthouse
3rd Floor Ceremonial Courtroom, 100 S. Clinton St., Syracuse, New York
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.

Complimentary luncheon following the program at Kitty Hoynes Restaurant.
Admission Application Deadline April 22, 2010.
Pre-registration for CLE & luncheon required by April 23, 2010.
Please visit the NDNY FCBA website for details at

Trista F. O'Hara, Esq.
Pro Se Coordinator
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 1306
Syracuse, New York 13201
Office #: (315) 422-2711
Toll Free #: 1-877-422-1011
Fax #: (315) 422-2778

June 25, 2010

Justice with Michael Sandel

Justice with Michael Sandel - Home

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

In this twelve part series, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.
This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.

Watch all twelve episodes here.

October 4, 2010

National Law Journal: Dissent breaks out over ABA charges for ethics opinions

Dissent breaks out over ABA charges for ethics opinions

Leigh Jones
September 29, 2010

The American Bar Association is under fire from attorneys who argue that the organization should stop charging fees for access to its ethics opinions.

An outcry erupted this week among practitioners who said that the ABA has a responsibility to the profession and the public to make all ethics opinions available for free online.

"Let the ABA sell something else," said Carolyn Elefant, a solo practitioner in Washington.

Read the entire NLJ article here.

October 13, 2010

Prof. Salkin: Social Networking and Land Use Planning Regulation: Practical Benefits, Pitfalls and Ethical Considerations

SSRN-Social Networking and Land Use Planning Regulation: Practical Benefits, Pitfalls and Ethical Considerations by Patricia E. Salkin

Patricia Salkin
Albany Law School

Patricia E. Salkin is the Raymond and Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law, Associate Dean and Director of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School.

Pace Law Review, Forthcoming

This article explores how social networking sites have been used or might be used in the land use context. Part I focuses on the use of social networking for land use planning and zoning. It includes a discussion of the pros and cons of the use of social networking sites to present public information and to gather public input and invite general participation in the process, as well as to provide notice to the public of forthcoming government decision-making. This section offers concrete examples of how this technology is currently being used in the land use context. Part II focuses on the professional ethical considerations of the various players in the land use game as it specifically relates to the use of social networking sites. For lawyers, the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct are examined and for Planners, the Code of Ethics of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is explored for guidance. The article concludes with a warning that that although there are benefits to the use of social networking tools for land use planning and zoning initiatives, attorneys, government agencies, planners and others should use caution when employing these tools, being certain to weigh ethics and professionalism implications, social justice goals and public participation mandates and aspirations against the advantages of these tools, and the uncertainty of how courts might apply myriad legal mandates in cyberspace.

Download the entire article in pdf here.

October 22, 2010

ProPublica: Read: The Depositions That Sparked the Foreclosure Scandal

In depositions both old and new, employees at servicers, foreclosure-mill law firms, and other players describe how they processed foreclosures. Read it in their words.

Read entire article with multiple links to deposition transcripts.

November 4, 2010

NDNY FCBA: Federal Criminal Law Update CLE

The NDNY FCBA will be holding their annual Federal Criminal Law Update CLE on Thursday, November 18, 2010. The program will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York.

Pre-registration is required.

Please see their website ( for additional information and well as registration information.

Thank you.

Trista F. O'Hara, Esq.
Pro Se Coordinator
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 1306
Syracuse, New York 13201
Office #: (315) 422-2711
Toll Free #: 1-877-422-1011
Fax #: (315) 422-2778

November 11, 2010

ABA: Formal Opinion 10-457 Lawyer Websites

Websites have become a common means by which lawyers communicate with the public. Lawyers must not include misleading information on websites, must be mindful of the expectations created by the website, and must carefully manage inquiries invited through the website. Websites that invite inquiries may create a prospective client-lawyer relationship under Rule 1.18. Lawyers who respond to website-initiated inquiries about legal services should consider the possibility that Rule 1.18 may apply.

For full text of opinion click here.

November 19, 2010

SmartBrief: Should lawyers be allowed to work from home?

Some lawyers are trading formal offices for virtual offices run from their own home, but not all states are happy about the idea. New Jersey recently ruled that virtual offices violate the state's rules of conduct for lawyers. Pennsylvania regulators took the opposite approach and explicitly gave lawyers permission to set up virtual offices with no fixed physical address.

January 11, 2011

Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint

Scale of justice, Enhanced version of an image...

Image via Wikipedia

Seminars and Events
January 31, 2011
Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint
180 Maiden Lane, 38th Floor New York, NY 10038

5:30-6:00 pm Registration
6:00-7:30 pm Program

Please join us for an interactive roundtable discussion on: "Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint."

Free CLE Ethics Credit Program Panelists will include:

Shoshana T. Bookson, Esq. The Law Offices of Shoshana T. Bookson The Jewish Lawyers Guild

Gerald J. Russello, Esq. Fellow, Chesterton Institute at Seton Hall University The Guild of Catholic Lawyers

Benish A. Shah, Esq. Sardar Law Firm Muslim Bar Association of New York

Joel Cohen, Esq.

There is no charge for this event. This is a "Free CLE" event and "Ethics Credit" will be available. Light Refreshments will be served.

To RSVP, visit If you have questions, please contact Yolanda Cintron at 212.806.5741 or

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March 7, 2011

Administrative Judicial Institute Program Announcement: Implicit Bias in Judicial Decision Making: Striving for Fairness from the Bench, March 23, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dear Colleagues,


The Administrative Judicial Institute is pleased to invite you and your fellow administrative law judges to attend a program entitled " Implicit Bias in Judicial Decision Making: Striving for Fairness from the Bench"," on Wednesday evening, March 23, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  The program will be presented by Columbia Professor Dana Carney and New York University Law School Professor Sarah Burns and will focus on helping judges understand how unintended biases develop and can impact judicial decision making, and how they might be avoided or addressed. 


The program will be held at the Institute's 14th Floor Lecture Room at 40 Rector Street and will provide 2 CLE credits in ethics.  A description of the program is posted on the Institute's website.  Please share this announcement with your fellow judges and tribunal attorneys. 


To register, go to the Upcoming Programs link on the Institute website: .  The registration link will be active after 4 p.m. today. 


Hope to see you there,

Ray Kramer


Raymond E. Kramer

Administrative Law Judge

Administrative Judicial institute at the

Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings

40 Rector Street, 6th Floor

New York, New York 10006

Phone: 212-442-4928; - 4929

Fax: 212-442-8910   

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March 24, 2011

NYLJ: New Circuit Disciplinary Rule Targets Uncooperative Attorneys

Attorneys charged before a Second Circuit grievance committee who fail to respond to or comply with show cause orders can be deemed to have waived objections on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled.

In In re Paul E. Warburgh, 07-9056-am, a per curiam opinion issued Tuesday, Judges Jose A. Cabranes, Robert D. Sack and Richard C. Wesley, who make up the circuit's grievance panel, said the committee was well within its rights to take summary action once Mr. Warburgh had repeatedly refused to respond to the show cause order.

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March 25, 2011

NYSBA Pro Bono: Free Criminal Law CLE Program

Friday, June 17, 2011 
Staying Ahead of the Curve: What Every Criminal Defense Lawyer Needs to Know

Free Criminal Law CLE Program for Public Defenders, Conflict Defenders and Assigned Counsel
7 MCLE Credits (6.0 Professional Practice and or Skills; 1.0 Ethics)

Click here for the Program Agenda and On-Line Registration

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March 29, 2011

NYLJ: 'Hundreds' of Layoffs Loom as Judiciary Prepares to Slash Another $70 Million

Read entire report in NYLJ.

Cortland County Supreme Court Justice Philip R. Rumsey, the president of the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, said the courts are being ill-used by the governor and the Legislature.

"The other two branches are requiring the courts to establish 'worthy programs,' such as the mandatory settlement conferences in foreclosure cases," Justice Rumsey said. "But then they are not providing the resources to do what they have required."

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April 14, 2011

Second Circuit CLE: Ethics Update (May 2011)

NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

Proudly Announces


A New York State

Federal Judicial Council - Advisory Group

Complimentary Second Circuit CLE Program


Ethics Update:

"Perspectives from the Federal & State Judiciary"

(2.0 hrs. CLE Ethics Credits)



Program Chair:  Doreen A. Simmons, Esq., Hancock Estabrook, LLP 


Moderators will present differences in the interpretation and application of ethical standards, disciplinary proceedings, and sanctions in Federal and State Courts.  Program topics will address issues in both criminal and civil practice including counsel withdrawal, discipline and sanctions, the no-contact rule, attorney disqualification, and ethics surrounding social media.


This program is complimentary to any attorneys admitted to practice in the State of New York.  Following each program, there will be a light refreshment gathering which will include the Judicial Panel.  THERE IS NO FEE FOR THIS CLE OR THE RECEPTION.   


Space will be limited. You may now register for any of these programs through the Second Circuit registration program.



Eastern DistrictMay 11 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) 


Chair:  Marjorie J. Peerce, Esq., Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman, P.C.


Location:  EDNY Courthouse / Ceremonial Courtroom Program will be video-conferenced to Central Islip Courthouse


Moderator:  Bruce A. Green, Esq., Fordham University School of Law


Judicial Panel:


Hon. Brian M. Cogan, District Judge, EDNY

Hon. Barry Kamins, Admin. Judge for Criminal Matters, 2d Jud. Dist.

Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Admin. Judge for Civil Matters, 2d Jud. Dist.



Southern District: May 10 (5:30-7:30 p.m.)


Chair:  Bernice K. Leber, Esq., Arent Fox PLLC


Location:  DPM Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom Program will be video-conferenced to White Plains Courthouse


Moderator:  Bruce A. Green, Esq., Fordham University School of Law


Judicial Panel:


Hon. Loretta A. Preska, Chief Judge, SDNY

Hon. Angela M. Mazzarelli, Assoc. Justice of Appellate Div., 1st Dept.

Hon. Bernard J. Fried, Supreme Court Justice, Commercial Division



Northern District (Albany): May 10 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)


Chair:  Linda J. Clark, Esq., Hiscock & Barclay, LLP


Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom


Moderator:  Patrick M. Connors, Esq., Albany Law School


Judicial Panel:


Hon. Gary L. Sharpe, District Judge, NDNY

Hon. Randolph F. Treece, Magistrate Judge, NDNY

Hon. E. Michael Kavanagh, Justice of the Appellate Div., 3rd Dept.

Hon. Kimberly O'Connor, Supreme Court Justice, N.Y. Court of Claims



Northern District (Syracuse):  May 11 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)


Co-Chairs:  Doreen A. Simmons, Esq., Hancock Estabrook, LLP

                   Edward R. Conan, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC


Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom


Moderator:  Patrick M. Connors, Esq., Albany Law School


Judicial Panel:


Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Chief Judge, NDNY

Hon. George H. Lowe, Magistrate Judge, NDNY

Hon. John V. Centra, Assoc. Justice of the Appellate Div., 4th Dept.

Hon. Deborah H. Karalunas, Supreme Court Justice, Onondaga Co.



Western District (Buffalo): May 9 (2:30-4:30 p.m.) 


Co-Chairs:  Jeffrey A. Wadsworth, Esq., Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP

                   Sharon M. Porcellio, Esq., Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy


Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom


Moderator: Jeremy R. Feinberg, Esq., Special Counsel for Ethics


Judicial Panel:


Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Ct. of Appeals, Second Circuit

Hon. Hugh B. Scott, Magistrate Judge, Western District of New York

Hon. Eugene M. Fahey, Assoc. Justice of the Appellate Div., 4th Dept.

Hon. John M. Curran, State Supreme Court Justice, Erie County




 "The New York State-Federal Judicial Council is composed of Federal and State Judges appointed by the Chief Judges of the State of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, assisted by an Advisory Group of judges and practitioners.  The mission of the Council is to foster improved communication and cooperation among Federal and State court systems throughout New York by developing and sponsoring joint projects.  This has included Continuing Legal Education presentations relating to mortgage foreclosure, electronic discovery, and dispute resolution, as well as evaluations of various parallel State and Federal programs and the effective sharing of knowledge and resources."

April 27, 2011

Debt collectors must tread lightly on social media -
The lawsuit filed by Melanie Beacham over alleged harassment by MarkOne Financial is still ongoing. But in the meantime, a Florida judge has ordered the debt collector not to contact Beacham or her family and friends over Facebook or any other social networking site, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

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May 6, 2011

Reports: Fake Law Firm Site Targeting Lawyers in Real Estate Scam Uses Actual Law Firm Info, Photos - News - ABA Journal

The photos and biographies of two affiliated United Kingdom solicitors are used for the fake firm's Internet persona, along with virtually the entire website for the law firm that one of the solicitors heads.

The site for Wagner Elliot apparently is intended to help lull actual attorneys into a sense of security as they deposit a certified check from the "law firm," purportedly paid on behalf of a foreign client closing a local real estate transaction.

Read details of this scam on lawyers in full article here.

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May 16, 2011

Confidential Federal Audits Accuse Five Biggest Mortgage Firms Of Defrauding Taxpayers [EXCLUSIVE]

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May 20, 2011

Sui Generis--a New York law blog: Do lawyers have a duty to supervise cloud computing providers?

Nicole Black:

"...Following the suggestions of proposed changes to the Model Rules and comments to the Rules, the Committee provided an explanatory report that outlined the basis for its proposed revisions. In that report, the Committee described the rationale behind the proposed changes to the Comment regarding Rule 5.3:

"The last sentence of Comment [3] emphasizes that lawyers have an obligation to give appropriate instructions to nonlawyers outside the firm when retaining or directing those nonlawyers. For example, a lawyer who instructs an investigative service may not be in a position to directly supervise how a particular investigator completes a particular assignment, but the lawyer's instructions must be reasonable under the circumstances..." (Emphasis added).

Given my previously expressed concerns, I was happy to note that the Commission limited the scope of an attorney's duty to oversee the activities of non-lawyers retained to provide services on behalf of the firm. The italicized section is particularly important since it acknowledges that lawyers may not always have the necessary expertise to supervise non-lawyers, depending on the services provided..."

Read her entire analysis here.

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May 24, 2011

Basic iPad Security for Lawyers | The Hytech Lawyer

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory.

Image via Wikipedia

If you want to use the iPad as a law practice tool and you value your license, clients and firm, then some basic security precautions are mandated.  Read about them here.

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June 4, 2011

Attend Albany E-Discovery Update & Ethics of Online Activity - Mon., 6/20/11

The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association cordially invites all attorneys to attend a CLE program in Albany on Monday, June 20, 2011.  The Program will be immediately followed by a  Welcome Reception for District Court Judge Mae D'Agostino, co-sponsored by the NDNY-FCBA and Capital District Women's Bar Association (CDWBA).


Register Now!




Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

(Registration at 1:30 p.m.)

James T. Foley - U.S. Courthouse, Albany, New York


Part 1: 2:00 - 2:50 p.m.

"Zubulake Revisited":  The Decision in Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, LLC


Part 2: 3:00 - 3:50 p.m.

Attorney-Client & Work Product Privilege in the Digital Age


Part 3: 4:00 - 4:50 p.m.

Legal Ethics of Social Networking and Online Activity


Panel Members:

Robert Heverly, Esq., Professor of Law, Albany Law School

Margaret J. Gillis, Esq., Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, LLP

Joann Sternheimer, Esq., Deily, Mooney & Glastetter, LLP


The CLE is free of charge to current NDNY-FCBA members.  Non-FCBA-Members:  $75.00.  See below for membership details.


RSVP for CLE by June 13, 2011


The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Provider of continuing legal education in the State of New York (February 16, 2010 through February 15, 2013).


This CLE has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board for 2.0 credits toward the Professional Practice requirement and 1.0 credit toward the Ethics and Professionalism requirement.*


* This course or program is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.



(Co-Sponsored by NDNY-FCBA and CDWBA)

Monday, June 20, 2011, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

James T. Foley - U.S. Courthouse, Albany, New York

Grand Foyer, First Floor


All NDNY-FCBA members are invited and encouraged to attend and welcome our newest District Court Judge to the Northern District of New York.


Light refreshments, hors d'oeuvres and cash bar.


Register Now!

We look forward to seeing you at these great events!




CLE Committee
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
Where: U.S. Courthouse, 445 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207
When:  Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.



NDNY-FCBA Membership Information: Non-members may join online at Annual dues for membership in the NDNY-FCBA are waived for attorneys in their first year of practice, and $75 for all other members. Membership includes, among other things, free CLE Programs, advance invitations to lectures and events, and access to members-only information on the NDNY-FCBA web site (including Practitioner's Tips, Decision of Interest, CLE Materials, and Links & Resources).

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June 16, 2011

NYLJ: Ethics Opinion Urges Wariness In Dealing With Lawsuit Funding

It is not necessarily unethical for attorneys to take clients who are receiving non-recourse litigation financing from third-party lenders, but the attorneys should be wary of potential conflicts of interest and breaches of confidentiality, the New York City Bar has said in a new ethics opinion. 

Read entire NYLJ article. (Requires free registration)

June 29, 2011

NYLJ: New Contribution Rule Limits Assignments to Elected Judges

ALBANY - Nearly 1,000 elected state judges will no longer receive assignments to cases where lawyers, their firms or their clients have contributed $2,500 or more to the judge's campaigns in the previous two years, or have collectively contributed $3,500 or more, under a new rule adopted by the court system.

Section 151.1 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge, whose approval was announced yesterday, will take effect on July 15 and apply to any political contributions received after that date.

"This rule promotes public confidence in the independence, fairness and impartiality of the Judiciary," said Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

He said the new rule establishes "simple" guidelines to alleviate public suspicion of big-money influence on the administration of justice. It replaces a subjective approach that has depended on individual judges to determine when they should recuse themselves from cases.

"It is not a recusal rule," he said. "It is an assignment rule."

Read entire article in NYLJ (Requires free registration)

July 14, 2011

NYLJ: HSBC Bank USA v. Taher, 9320/09

Supreme Court, Kings County
Creditors and Debtors Rights 

HSBC Executive Ordered to Attend Sanction Hearing in Foreclosure Case...decision details continued robo-signing abuses, post -OCA affirmation requirement (Administrative Order 548/10 of October 20, 2010).

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August 17, 2011

Governor Cuomo Signs New Ethics Laws--NYLJ

With a new ethics bill signed yesterday by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York became one of a handful of states requiring its lawyer-legislators to disclose the identity of their clients. Under the Public Integrity Reform Act, lawyers will be required to publicly reveal the identity of their own clients and clients they referred to the firm, when the client is doing business with, receiving grants from, seeking legislation from or is in litigation with the state. Additionally, every appearance by a lawyer-legislator before a state administrative agency will be recorded by the agency and made public. New York joins California, Washington, Alaska and Louisiana in requiring its lawyer-lawmakers to reveal clients.

The disclosure requirement takes effect in mid-2013, covering matters occurring during the 2012 calendar year. It kicks in when the legal fee exceeds $10,000 and the state contract is worth more than $50,000 or the grant is worth more than $25,000. The law affects only new clients or new matters for existing clients and attorney-legislators will not have to identify clients who are being represented in connection with an investigation or prosecution, involved in a domestic relations matter or a bankruptcy or "where disclosure of a client's identity is likely to cause harm."

Read entire NYLJ article here.

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August 20, 2011

Venture Capitalists Take Aim at Lawyers-Jim Calloway

Forbes magazine carried the news this month that Google Ventures is part of a group pouring $18.5 million into Rocket Lawyer, which is claiming to be the "fastest growing online legal service." This news was followed up by a Forbes column titled"Google Backing of DIY Legal Forms Will Force Lawyers To Lower Fees."

Certainly Rocket Lawyer is not the only business seeking to profit from providing preparation of legal documents online. When the economic outlook for the legal profession is certainly not projected to be one of increasing profits, why are venture capitalists apparently so interested in the legal profession? To answer that question, I turned to Richard Granat. Granat is the lawyer behind DirectLaw, a firm that provides lawyers with the tools to set up virtual practices that deliver documents and legal services online. He is also a long-time member and current Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the ABA Law Practice Management Section.

Read the interview interview by Jim Calloway with Richard Granat here.

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September 9, 2011

Requirement That Out-of-State Attorneys Maintain Offices in N.Y. Held Unconstitutional

Schoelfeld v. State of New York
U.S. District Court, Northern District
Legal Profession 

Requirement That Out-of-State Attorneys Maintain Offices in N.Y. Held Unconstitutional (See link below for full text of decision).

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October 6, 2011

Formal Opinion 11-461 August 4, 2011 Advising Clients Regarding Direct Contacts with Represented Persons

Full text of opinion (in pdf)

Parties to a legal matter have the right to communicate directly with each other. A lawyer may advise a client of that right and may assist the client regarding the substance of any proposed communication. The lawyer's assistance need not be prompted by a request from the client. Such assistance may not, however, result in overreaching by the lawyer.

This opinion is based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct as amended by the ABA House of Delegates through August 2011. The laws, court rules, regulations, rules of professional conduct, and opinions promulgated in individual jurisdictions are controlling.

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NYLJ: Baum Firm to Pay $2 Million, Alter Practices

One of New York state's biggest foreclosure law firms will revamp its practices and pay a $2 million fine to settle a six-month probe by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District that found it had filed misleading pleadings, affidavits and mortgage assignments in state and federal courts.

In a settlement agreement announced today, the firm, Steven J. Baum, P.C. of Amherst, will implement a series of internal controls that include a pledge not to bring foreclosure actions without reviewing the original promissory notes or reviewing a copy of the note from its client or custodian of the document.

The 12-page agreement also prohibits the firm's employees from executing mortgage assignments as officials or representatives of MERS, an electronic mortgage registry system.

Read the entire NYLJ article here (Free Registration may be required).

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October 9, 2011

Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen -

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.

The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made byPresident Obama -- to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.

The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki's case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.

Read entire NYTIMES Report here. (May require free registration)

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October 18, 2011

NYSBA Ethics Opinion 882 (10/14/2011)

Topic: Lawyer's participation in residential real estate transaction that includes both a "seller's concession" and an equivalent "gross-up" in the sales


Digest: If the sales price in a residential real estate transaction has been "grossed-up" in exchange for a "seller's concession," all transaction documents containing the grossed- up sales price must disclose that the sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession. Rules: 8.4(c).

" a residential real estate transaction where the sales contract, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the transfer tax return and any other documents that contain the sales price [shall] each contain the following statement (or a substantially similar statement): "The sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession."

Read the entire opinion here.

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October 29, 2011

What the Costumes Reveal -

In this New York Times op-ed entitled "What the Costumes Reveal," Joe Nocera describes the conduct of employees of the New York law firm Steven J. Baum, P.C., at last year's firm Halloween bash. Nocera writes that Baum employees wore costumes making fun of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. In the image below, for instance, a dirty "foreclosure victim" is holding a wine bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. 20111029_NOCERA-IMG-slide-N9Q1-articleLarge

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November 15, 2011

NYLJ: Baum Firm Challenges Affirmation Requirement

New York's largest foreclosure law firm is fighting to overturn a state court requirement that it and other firms submit an affirmation vouching for the accuracy of documents they file for lenders.

Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Walker in Erie County (See Profile) held a hearing on Nov. 7 on a motion of Steven J. Baum P.C. in a foreclosure case arguing that the year-old rule announced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and implemented by Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau (NYLJ, Oct. 21, 2010) violates the state Constitution.


The Baum firm's motion is not the first to challenge the requirement. In LaSalle Bank v. Pace, 15822-2008, Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. Whelan (See Profile) in Suffolk County ruled the affirmation requirement was invalid (NYLJ, March 9). That decision is being appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department.

The Baum firm acknowledged that its motion in Foster "closely follows the reasoning of Justice Whelan's decision" in LaSalle.


Read entire Andrew Keshner NYLJ article and analysis here (may require registration).

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November 21, 2011

Baum foreclosure law firm closing - Business - The Buffalo News

The closure comes just days after both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac banned the law firm from receiving any new foreclosure, bankruptcy or other legal work from lenders and servicers working on behalf of the mortgage finance giants. Baum could still continue handling work it had already been referred and begun processing, but would not receive any new business.


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December 1, 2011

Your Android Phone Is Secretly Recording Everything You Do (Updated)-Gizmodo

If you have any decently modern Android phone, everything you do is being recorded by hidden software lurking inside. It even circumvents web encryption and grabs everything--including your passwords and Google queries.

Worse: it's the handset manufacturers and the carriers who--in the name of "making your user experience better"--install this software without any way for you to opt-out. This video, recorded by 25-year-old Android developer Trevor Eckhart, shows how it works. This is bad. Really bad.

Update 1: Nokia claims they don't use Carrier IQ's spyware.
Update 2: Hackers have found Carrier IQ in Apple iPhone, but only works in diagnostic mode--which is off by default--and only logs technical data.


Read entire article and see the video by clicking the first link below:

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January 6, 2012

Hiring Law Students for Free Online Research Is Widespread and Unethical, Opinion Says - News - ABA Journal

Budget-minded lawyers who think they can hire law students for their free access to Lexis and Westlaw should think again, according to a Utah ethics opinion.

A lawyer who uses law students to access free online research violates ethical rules, according to the Nov. 15 opinion by the Utah State Bar Ethics Opinion Advisory Committee. The Legal Skills Prof Blog has the story.

Read entire blurb.


As is often the case with these ABA reports, the comments from other lawyers are more interesting than the report.

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January 17, 2012

App Store - New York State Bar Association Mobile Ethics App for NY Attorneys


Searchable database of ethics opinions from the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics. Available for search by keyword, category or opinion number. Search more than 850 opinions on topics including various conflicts of interest, attorney advertising, standards for social media and social networking and more. Opinions are keyed to the New York Rules of Model Conduct and are available for sharing via social networks or email. Ethics opinions are available to all and are of particular interest to attorneys in New York State.

iPhone Screenshots

February 7, 2012

DocX Faces Foreclosure Fraud Charges in Missouri -

A grand jury in Boone County, Mo., handed up an indictment Friday accusing DocX of 136 counts of forgery in the preparation of documents used to evict financially strained borrowers from their homes. Lorraine O. Brown, the company's founder and former president, was indicted on the same charges.

Employees of DocX, a unit of Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., executed and notarized millions of mortgage documents for big banks and loan servicers over the years. Lender Processing closed the company in April 2010, after evidence emerged of apparent forgeries in these documents, a practice now called robo-signing.

Read entire article here.

DOCX Indictment
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February 10, 2012

NYSBA Mobile Ethics App

Android App 

Apple App

Blackberry App

Ethics screenshotBe among the first to try the new NYSBA Mobile Ethics App - featuring the full database of NYSBA's nearly 900 ethics opinions - ranging from 1964 to today. The app allows you to search the database of opinions by keyword, by category or by opinion number.  When the list of results appears you will see a brief digest of the opinion. When you click on the opinion you select you will see the full text of the opinion - exactly as it was issued by the Committee on Professional Ethics. Once you install the app, all of NYSBA's opinions will be available to you on your device - regardless of whether you are connected to the Internet or not. When new Ethics Opinions are issued they will be pushed out to your device as an update and you will see a notification on the app screen indicating how many new opinions are available.

The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App is free and will be available in 2012, to anyone who wants to download it. The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App is available for iPhones through the App Store, for Android devices through the Android Marketplace and for Blackberry through the Blackberry App Market.

March 6, 2012

Circuit Finds Attorney Ad Rule on Specialty Violates Free Speech-NYLJ

Hayes v. State of New York Attorney Grievance Committee of the Eighth Judicial District, 10-1587-cv

Parts of a New York rule requiring that attorneys who claim to be certified specialists make prescribed disclosure statements violates the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled yesterday.

Buffalo personal injury lawyer J. Michael Hayes convinced the Second Circuit that there was a lack of clear standards for enforcing Rule 7.4 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct on attorney specializations.

Mr. Hayes had drawn the attention of the Attorney Grievance Committee in the Eighth Judicial District for inadequate disclosures on his letterhead and on one of two billboards advertising his services in 1999.

Although he was never formally disciplined for running afoul of Rule 7.4, "Identification of Practice and Specialty," Mr. Hayes was facing potential discipline for his letterhead when he filed an action in the Western District seeking a declaration that the rule was unconstitutional both on its face and as applied.

On March 5, the Second Circuit agreed in Hayes v. State of New York Attorney Grievance Committee of the Eighth Judicial District10-1587-cv, reversing Western District Judge John T. Elfvin's grant of summary judgment to the grievance committee and the decision of Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, who rejected Mr. Hayes' void-for-vagueness claim following a bench trial in 2010.

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March 9, 2012

Judge Rebuffs Challenge to Ban on Non-Lawyer Firm Ownership-NYLJ

Jacoby &amp; Meyers, LLP v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second Third and Fourth Departments, A...Read entire Mark Hamblett NYLJ article here.

A challenge by Jacoby & Meyers to New York state's ban on law firms accepting equity investments from non-lawyers has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Southern District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan (See Profile) on March 8 said the personal injury firm's lawsuit challenging Rule 5.4 of New York's Rules of Professional Conductmust fail because the rule is not the only one in New York that "forecloses plaintiffs from receiving non-lawyer equity investment," but it was the only one challenged by the firm.


New York Assistant Attorneys General Daniel A. Schulze and Michael J. Siudzinski represented the state in Jacoby & Meyers, LLP v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second Third and Fourth Departments, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 11 Civ. 3387.

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March 22, 2012

Baum Firm Reaches Settlement With Attorney General-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Andrew Keshner.

Steven J. Baum, who led what was once New York's largest foreclosure firm before it closed its doors last year, has agreed not to handle foreclosure cases for lenders and servicers for two years under a settlement agreement with the New York Attorney General's Office.

Mr. Baum, his managing partner Brian Kumiega, the Baum firm and Pillar Processing will also pay $4 million under the deal.

According to the attorney general's office, between 2007 and 2010, the Baum Firm filed over 100,000 foreclosure proceedings and represented many of the largest servicers of residential mortgage loans. Pillar was formed by the firm to handle the bulk of the foreclosure processing.

The attorney general's office claimed that the Baum firm "repeatedly" filed legal papers in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings "without taking appropriate steps to verify the accuracy of" allegations, the lender's right to foreclose or to file a bankruptcy proof of claim.


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March 29, 2012

Bars Rally Around Suspended Attorney-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Andrew Keshner.

Several bar organizations are supporting the effort of a suspended Long Island attorney to challenge in the state's highest court what he describes as the overly strict approach of the Appellate Division, Second Department, to enforcing disciplinary rules governing attorney escrow accounts.

Mr. Galasso argues in court papers that the Second Department wrongly used a strict liability standard that required attorneys "to be insurers of all escrow deposits" and "unfairly results in a lawyer's law license being posted as additional collateral for his costly designation on an attorney escrow account."

"[A]side from imposing an unattainable level of managerial and investigative skills upon lawyers, the Appellate Division has declared that attorneys in operating escrow accounts, beyond any financial exposure they may face, must now post their licenses as some sort of additional collateral to their exposure in damages," Mr. Galasso argued. He later added, "With this holding, the prospects of finding attorneys willing to hold client escrow will be bleak. In the end, the public will suffer as well."

The New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the Nassau County Bar Association, Matrimonial and Family Law Bar Association of Suffolk County and the Bronx County Bar Association all plan to file amicus briefs urging the Court of Appeals to grant Mr. Galasso's motion for leave to appeal.

May 2, 2012

Lippman Announces Pro Bono Requirement for Bar Admission-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Joel Stashenko here.

ALBANY - Starting next year, prospective lawyers must show that they have performed at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono service before being admitted to the New York state bar, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced yesterday.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's Law Day 2012 Remarks

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May 3, 2012

UPDATE: Your Opinion on the Pro Bono Requirement is Sought by NYSBA Prexy

Office of the President

In his Law Day speech on Tuesday, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that beginning next year, people seeking admission to the bar in New York will be required to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono service at some point prior to their application. According to Chief Judge Lippman's speech, this service can be performed during law school, or prior to the admission process. 

(Text of Lippman's speech:

The New York State Bar Association has not yet seen any written version of this new requirement, but will follow the matter closely. In the meantime, we are interested in our members' reactions and comments. Email us at


Vincent E. Doyle III, President

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June 14, 2012

Sui Generis--a New York law blog: Lawyers' use of social media during trials

Read Nicole Black's Excellent Article in Full here or see link below:


...Formal Opinion No. 743, issued by the New York County Lawyers' Association Committee on Professional Ethics, which addressed the issue of how lawyers can ethically use social media for juror research during trials. The committee concluded that pursuant to RPA 3.5 it is ethically permissible for attorneys to conduct research and follow jurors' social media interactions only if the jurors are unaware of the monitoring.

More recently, the New York City Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics addressed a similar issue in Formal Opinion 2012. The specific issue addressed was: "What ethical restrictions, if any, apply to an attorney's use of social media websites to research potential or sitting jurors?"

The committee reached the same conclusion as the New York County Ethics Committee and concluded that lawyers can use social media to research jurors, so long as the jurors remain unaware that the research is occurring.

The committee explained that it was important to ensure that a juror did not learn of of the attorney's actions, whether in the form of a notification from the social media site or otherwise. If the attorney knew a juror would be aware of the monitoring, then it would be unethical to conduct the research on that particular site. Furthermore, even if the attorney was unaware that a notification would be sent, if the juror subsequently learned of the monitoring, then it could still qualify as a prohibited communication in violation of RPE 3.5.


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July 24, 2012

Referee Report Faults Holzman but Rejects Most Conduct Charges-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ report by Brandon Pierson here.

A referee has found that Bronx Surrogate Lee Holzman (See Profile) should have fired Michael Lippman, the former chief counsel to the Bronx public administrator, and reported him to the First Department Disciplinary Committee in 2006 when he discovered that Lippman had collected excessive legal fees from estates. But the referee has rejected the rest of the charges brought against Holzman last year by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

See referee's report.

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July 25, 2012

Debt Collection Attorney Listing: Attorney Who Can Sign Name is Good Enough (CL&P Blog)

From Craig's List.  The third paragraph is particularly interesting.

We are a collection agency/debt buyer. What we are looking for is a part time attorney to work for us as our corporate counsel, on our payroll, about 5 to 6 hours a week. This is a short term employment arrangement, no longer than 90 to 120 days.

Your job will be to sign pleadings, praecipe for entry of appearances, praecipe for writ of execution, and garnishment orders. Our paralegal will prepare all paperwork for your signature. This is very standard stuff for us.

If you are an attorney looking for challenging legal work, this is not for you. WE DO NOT NEED F LEE BAILEY- we are fee shopping. If you passed your boards with a D+, and you can sign your name, you possess all the credentials required for this job. If this opportunity interests you, please feel free to reply to this email with a brief description of who you are, when you got your law license, and what you will be needing from us in the way of compensation.

Read entire post and comments at CL&P Blog.

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August 13, 2012

Problems Riddle Moves to Collect Credit Card Debt -

"I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can't prove the person owes the debt," said Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, who said he presided over as many as 100 such cases a day.

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August 27, 2012

Conduct Commission Questions If Judicial Plates Violate Code-NYLJ

Judges whose license plates identify the office they hold may, in effect, be trading on their positions to avoid the consequences of being stopped for traffic infractions, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct has suggested.

Prompted by a recent disciplinary decision, the commission is seeking input for a public report to address the issue of whether the special vehicle plates violate the code of judicial conduct. It sent letters earlier this month to more than 200 judicial and legal organizations seeking input.

The commission initially disclosed in Matter of Schilling that it planned to conduct the study. In that case, the commission recommended the removal of former town justice Diane Schilling of East Greenbush, Rensselaer County, for arranging to fix one traffic ticket issued to herself and another to the wife of a fellow justice (NYLJ, May 11).


In his letter seeking input, commission administrator Robert Tembeckjian said the agency's staff is studying how many judicial plates are issued in New York, who holds them and if the plates carry any special privileges for the bearers. The staff is also researching the policies of other states on issuing plates identifying a vehicle as being owned by a judge.

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September 8, 2012

Attorney Email Scams

A helpful blog devoted to sharing and identifying e-mail phishing scams directed at lawyers.  Don't be embarrassed or lose money.  Check the site and contribute variations you may have received.

Email scams written just for Lawyers. May the power of Google save you all.

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September 16, 2012

In Prosecutors, Debt Collectors Find a Partner -

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September 20, 2012

Lippman Unveils Rule Detailing Bar Admission Pro Bono Mandate- NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ report by Joel Stashenko & Christine Simmons

Details of the new 50-hour pro bono requirement for applicants to the New York bar were unveiled yesterday by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Specifics of the program announced in May were eagerly awaited by law schools, public interest groups, bar associations and other members of the bar. They were announced by Lippman at a press conference at New York University School of Law.

The first-in-the-nation requirement will take effect immediately for first- and second-year law students, who will have up to 34 months to fulfill the mandate. Current third-years are exempt.

Read the new rule on pro bono practice.

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September 24, 2012

Ethics Advisory Panel Finds Judges Can Use Special License Plates-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by John Caher

A judicial ethics panel has concluded that there is nothing illegal or unethical about judges displaying license plates identifying their office, but whether use of the plates are appropriate or advisable is a matter still under study by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics last week issued Opinion 12-141 in response to an inquiry on whether it is ethically acceptable for a judge to have a specialty license plate that identifies his or her occupation. It noted that in a prior opinion (see 07-213) the committee advised that judges can display a license plate that identifies him or her as a member of a judge's association.

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September 28, 2012

IN THE MATTER OF KINDLON--Decided September 27, 2012.

Respondent's misconduct arose out of his representation of a criminal defendant. During a recess in the trial and while the prosecutor was outside the courtroom, respondent viewed, handled and photographed a document that was on the prosecution's table. Respondent did not seek, nor was he ever granted, permission by the prosecutor to examine, handle or photograph the document.

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December 10, 2012

The Ethics of Cloud Computing for Lawyers | Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division

Nicole Black has looked into the ethics of cloud computing extensively, both for her ABA book about cloud computing and for purposes of articles that she has written such as this recent one for the ABA's GPSolo ezine: The Ethics of Cloud Computing for Lawyers. The general standard is that lawyers must take reasonable steps to ensure that confidential client data is secure when stored with a particular vendor.

For more information, thanks to Nicole, take a look at this handy chart from the ABA which  summarizes the various decisions from the different jurisdictions on this issue.

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January 31, 2013

New York City Bar Association - Formal Opinion 2013-01: Duties to Prospective Clients After Beauty Contests and Other Preliminary Meetings

Formal Opinion 2103-1

TOPIC: Duties to Prospective Clients

DIGEST: Rule 1.18 codifies the established principle that New York lawyers owe duties to prospective clients even when no lawyer-client relationship ensues. These duties are determined by the nature of the information received from the prospective client and may restrict the lawyer‟s ability to use or reveal the information or to represent adverse parties in the same or a substantially related matter. While these duties may be significant, they are less restrictive than the comparable duties owed to former and current clients and permit the use of ethical screens to take on adverse representations.

February 27, 2013

Should judges disclose Facebook friends? 'Context is significant,' ABA ethics opinion says - ABA Journal

Judges who participate in social networking sites must heed the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, cautions Formal Opinion 462 (PDF). That means the judges should avoid contacts that would undermine their independence, integrity, or impartiality, or that would create an appearance of impropriety.

The Feb. 21 opinion by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility acknowledges that "judicious use" of electronic social media--referred to as "ESM"--can be a valuable tool for public outreach. "When used with proper care, judges' use of ESM does not necessarily compromise their duties under the Model Code any more than use of traditional and less public forms of social connection such as U.S. Mail, telephone, email or texting," according to the opinion

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April 12, 2013

Wisconsin Lawyer: Technology: Top 16 Security Tips for Smartphones:


The age of the pocket computer is upon us. Smartphones are no more than small computers that happen to make phone calls. According to a Nielsen report, more than 50 percent of mobile phone subscribers in the United States now own a smartphone. Lawyers are at the forefront of this technology wave, with 89 percent of them owning smartphones. Smartphones are extremely powerful devices, capable of storing contacts, calendar entries, email communications, electronic files, voice messages, and a host of additional confidential client information. As an attorney, you have an ethical obligation to protect the client data that is stored on your smartphone. Here are some security tips for protecting the data and some easy measures to take to avoid compromising data.

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May 1, 2013

Chief Judge Puts Pro Bono Disclosure Requirement in Place--NYLJ

ALBANY - Beginning today, New York lawyers must disclose on their biennial registration forms how many pro bono hours they provided and how much they made in financial donations to pro bono programs during the previous two years.

The new reporting requirements of Part 118 and Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct were approved by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the presiding justices of the Appellate Division's four departments on April 23.

Lippman's "Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services" recommended increasing the voluntary pro bono goal for lawyers in the state to 50 hours a year from 20 (NYLJ, Dec. 7, 2012). That proposal is also being implemented today.

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May 13, 2013

NYSBA Pro Bono Appeals Program

The New York State Bar Association is proud to provide an innovative Pro Bono Appeals Program that offers free representation to individuals of modest means in selected appeals to the Appellate Division in both the Third and Fourth Departments.

The Program, which began in the Third Department three years ago, was recently expanded to the Fourth Department. Family law appeals have proven to be the area of greatest need. The Program also offers appellate representation in cases involving education, health, housing, unemployment insurance, and worker's compensation. The Association's Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction selects cases based on several factors, including the merits of the issues raised and the potential impact of the case.

If you have clients of modest means who could benefit from this Program, please tell them about it and help them complete an application, available at, along with other details about the Program. Applicants with income up to 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible for representation. Also, if you have appellate experience and would like to participate in the program, please contact the Program at


Seymour W. James, Jr., President

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May 25, 2013

"Social Security Disability: Topics of Interest to Representatives at the Administrative and Federal Court Phases"

Please join the NDNY FCBA for a CLE Program in Syracuse on Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Social Security Disability:  Topics of Interest to Representatives at the Administrative and Federal Court Phases"

Presenters of this program will be:

Catherine M. Callery, Esq.
Empire Justice Center

Hon. Bruce S. Fein
U.S. Administrative Law Judge, SSA

Maria P. Fragassi Santangelo, Esq.
Office of General Counsel, SSA

Karen Southwick, Esq.
Olinsky Law Group

Louise M. Tarantino, Esq.
Empire Justice Center

Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks

U.S. Magistrate Judge NDNY

Thursday, June 27, 2013
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
James M. Hanley 
U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
100 South Clinton Street,
Jury Assembly Room, 7th Floor
Syracuse, New York
This program has been approved in
 accordance with the requirements 
of the New York State Continuing
Legal Education Board for 3.5 credits towards the Professional Practice 


(Registration closes June 20, 2013) 


The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Provider of continuing legal education in the State of New York
 (February 16, 2013 through February 15, 2016).

This program is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

This is a single program.  No partial credit will be awarded.

This  program is complimentary to all Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association Members.  Click on the link below to join.  The CLE program materials will be posted to our website.  As a member you may access all historic CLE materials for the NDNY FCBA CLE programs at:

If you have any questions you would like to submit prior to the program please submit them in advance to:

Thank you for your interest in the NDNY FCBA.  We look forward to seeing you at this upcoming CLE program.

Melissa Withers
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

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May 29, 2013

Do LinkedIn Endorsements Violate Legal Ethics? · Robert Ambrogi's LawSites

UnderABA Model Rule 7.1, a lawyer is not to make any false or misleading claims about his or her services. If a lawyer permits an endorsement to remain on the lawyer's LinkedIn profile that the lawyer knows to be misleading, even if someone else posted the endorsement, that would seem to be a problem under Rule 7.1.

Read entire Ambrogi article by clicking link below:

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June 28, 2013

Solo & Small Firms -10 Ethics Red Flags You Need To Know (Webinar Recap) | MyCase Blog

"Solo & Small Firms -10 Ethics Red Flags You Need To Know," featuring Carolyn Elefant and MyCase's Nicole Black.

During this webinar, Carolyn and Nicole discussed:

  • Confidentiality and security considerations when using cloud and mobile solutions
  • Attorney-client relationships, advertising, and other challenges when using social and online platforms
  • Virtual law office ethical issues, such as avoiding the unauthorized practice of law
  • Escrow account issues, alternative billing, outsourcing, and more.

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September 4, 2013



These remarks by Eric Cooperstein were first given at the Hennepin County Bar Association's annual meeting in May, then printed in the July 2013 issue of The Hennepin Lawyer, member publication of the HCBA. I am re-publishing them here because we have talked about the problems with bar associations, wondered whether they are still useful, suggestedways for them to stay relevant, and more. This is one bar association president's answer. -- Ed.

This an excellent explanation of why bar associations can and should foster the legal community.

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September 16, 2013

Analyzing the Unique Duties and Obligations of Special Needs Trusts-NYLJ


Read more:

Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are commonly used in planning for disabled beneficiaries. There are numerous resources addressing the drafting of SNTs, but there is a dearth of information to guide trustees in administering them. This article will focus on the special obligations and duties required of a trustee of an SNT.

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September 19, 2013

Pro Bono Requirement Modified to Help LL.M. Students-NYLJ

Joel Stashenko:

ALBANY - Responding to concerns voiced by law school deans, New York will give foreign master of law degree students more time to meet the requirement that new lawyers perform 50 hours of pro bono service before being admitted to the bar.

The Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements has decided that the previous interpretation of the state pro bono rules giving LL.M. students as little as a year to fulfill the 50-hour requirement was too limited.

Under an updated guide to the new rules released on Aug. 26, the committee said pro bono work performed by foreign students one year before they begin their course of study will count toward meeting the 50-hour obligation for entry to the New York bar.

Read more:
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Can You Disseminate Embarrassing Client Information Online And Get Away With It?-LAWYERIST

Every so often an ethics case comes along that has the potential for far-reaching ramifications. Hunter v. Virginia State Bar is one. It could mean lawyers can wilfully disseminate client information for their own gain without violating client confidentiality rules, but also that lawyers cannot blog about their practices and their successes without disclaimers. The legal ethics world is abuzz with whatHunter will mean across the country.

Read entire article here.

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October 10, 2013

What You Need to Know In Order to Sell a Law Practice-Lawyerist

Roy Ginsburg:  

For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm's good will were not something that could be sold. This prohibition did not really affect larger law firms, which would just buy out partners, i.e. the partnership would return the percentage of the equity owned by the retiring partner. Smaller law firms were able to "sell" themselves by merging with other firms.

Solos had to be more creative. Selling the firm's physical fixtures and furnishings for more than their reasonable market value was a common way to get around the prohibition. Another way was to create a sham partnership, in which the departing lawyer received retirement benefits from the new partner. Solos who were unwilling or unable to take advantage of one of those options, would simply give away their clients -- or just close up shop.


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October 13, 2013

NYSBACLE | CLE October 17, 2013--Blogging 101 - Social Media Marketing and Mentoring-Ethical and Practical Considerations


Blogging 101 - Social Media Marketing and Mentoring
Ethical and Practical Considerations

Learn more about the basics of blogging and the practical and ethical considerations surrounding social media marketing for lawyers.

CLE Program and Networking Reception

3.0 MCLE Ethics Credits

Thursday, October 17, 2013
MCLE Ethics Program
4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Networking Reception
7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Baker Hostetler
45 Rockefeller Plaza | NYC

Sponsored by the General Practice SectionLaw Practice Management and the Committee on Continuing Legal Education

This program will also be streamed as a live CLE Webcast.

Special NYSBA General Practice Section Member Rate $50
NYSBA Members $75 | Non-Members $150

If you would like to join the New York State Bar Association, visit

Program Agenda

4:00 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. Welcome and Introductions - Section and Program Chairs

4:10 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Basics of Blogging - Attorney Advertising Rules (1.0 credit)

5:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Break

5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Practical and Ethical Considerations of Online Social Media Marketing and Blogging (1.5 credits)

6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Panel/Best Practices (0.5 credits)

7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Networking Reception sponsored by the General Practice Section

Program Chair

Paige E. Zandri, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
New York, New York

Program Faculty

Leonard E. Sienko, Jr., Esq.
The Sienko Law Office
Hancock, NY

Steven C. Bennett, Esq.
Jones Day
New York, NY

Barbara Beauchamp
New York State Bar Association

Pre-registration is required.

Register Today!

The General Practice Section is pleased to announce the launch of its innovative mentoring program, GP Law ConnectGP Law Connect will be a legal blog, sponsored by the NYSBA's General Practice Section, for mentors and mentees to co-author articles and publish them online. Read more and learn how to join

This program is approved for all attorneys including those newly admitted. Newly admitted attorneys are encouraged to attend in person as they cannot receive MCLE credit for their participation in CLE webcasts/webconferences.

To learn more about upcoming Law Practice Management programs, visit

If you pre-register for the CLE Webcast, you will be able to view the program video online and email questions during the live program. All registrants will have access to the program archive for over a year. Registrants will be able to go back and review excerpts on demand.

Be advised that during the webcast, program verification codes will be displayed on the screen and announced. In order to receive MCLE credit, you will need to print the MCLE Attestation Form and write down the program codes. You will receive your MCLE certificate via email. Please be sure to provide your email address when registering.

In the event that you miss any portion of the program, the archive will be posted online. All pre-registered CLE webcast registrants will have access to the online archive file. You will be able to view the archive online, on-demand at your leisure.

Please note: Newly admitted attorneys may not receive MCLE credit for their participation in CLE Webcasts.

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October 26, 2013


Please see the memorandum from Chief Judge Sharpe regarding the Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program that begins on January 1st, 2014.

Lawrence K. Baerman
Clerk of Court

Dear Northern District Bar Member

As you may know, the Northern District has been deemed a congested court by the Judicial Conference Committee on Case Administration and Case Management. Over the past several years the Court, working closely with the Federal Court Bar Association, has been exploring ways to streamline the civil case resolution process. As a product of these discussions the Northern District of New York will be implementing a more robust Court annexed mediation program. The new Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program was fashioned after a similar program that was adopted in the Western District of New York several years ago. That program, along with several other paid mediation programs across the country, has shown great success in resolving cases at an early stage in the litigation process saving both time and money for the parties.
The Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program will run for two years starting with cases that are filed after January 1, 2014. Additionally, any civil case where a Rule 16 Conference has been scheduled after January 1, 2014 will be placed into the program. The Court and the Federal Court Bar Association felt strongly that the success of this program would hinge on the quality and expertise of the mediation panel. The Court, working closely with our ADR Committee and Federal Court Bar Association, selected highly qualified lawyers from across the district to participate as mediators in this new program. All of the selected mediators are required to attend an advanced mediation training seminar which focuses on federal mediation techniques.

As part of the new process, the parties will select the mediator of their choice from the Court approved list of mediators and complete a mandatory two-hour mediation session. The cost of the two-hour mandatory session will be capped at $300.00 ($150.00 per-hour, the $300.00 fee for the first two-hour session will be shared equally by the parties). Thereafter, the parties may agree to continue the mediation session beyond the mandatory two-hour period at the rate established for that mediator. During the pilot program, the Court has set a rate cap not to exceed $300.00 per-hour for those cases that proceed beyond the two-hour mandatory session. At the conclusion of the two-year pilot, the Court will evaluate the success of the program to determine if it should continue as a permanent part of our ADR suite. Attorneys participating in the program can expect to receive a short survey about their impressions of the new program. I ask your assistance in completing the survey so that we may properly assess the value of this program.

During the pendency of this Pilot program, the Court's current pro bono mediation, early neutral evaluation, and arbitration programs will be suspended. The Court will however, continue to operate the pro bono assisted mediation program which is designed to help pro se litigants proceed through court annexed mediation.

For more information on this new program, please refer to General Order #47 - Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program which is available on our Court Website under General Orders at

Thank you,

Gary L. Sharpe Chief Judge

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December 3, 2013


131202 Moreland Preliminary Report---NYS

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December 15, 2013

Unwitting lawyer is suspended for arranging client loans to secure Nigerian inheritance

An Iowa lawyer who believed his client was due to inherit $18.8 million from a long-lost Nigerian cousin has been suspended for tapping clients for loans in a failed effort to reap the windfall.

The Iowa Supreme Court suspended lawyer Robert Allan Wright Jr. for a year, according to the Legal Profession Blog, the Business Recordand According to the opinion (PDF) issued Friday, Wright believed his lucky client had to pay $177,660 in Nigerian inheritance taxes and additional cash for an "anti-terrorism certificate" before receiving the money.

Read the entire report from the ABAJournal here.

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January 2, 2014

Dying Lawyer Lynne Stewart Wins Compassionate Release | Democracy Now!

 Lynne Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.  Her sentence was increased after an appeals court ruled that two years and four months of prison time was too light. 
On New Year's Eve, a federal judge ordered her compassionate release. Stewart is 74 years old and dying from late-stage breast cancer. Viewed by supporters as a political prisoner, she had served almost four years of a 10-year sentence.

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January 12, 2014

Undocumented Immigrant Granted Law License by California Supreme Court--FindLaw

Undocumented Immigrant Granted Law License by California Supreme Court by FindLaw

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January 26, 2014

Sample Document-Destruction Policy-Lawyerist

"...Having a formal document destruction policy is a smart move for many reasons. It greatly streamlines the process of analyzing whether each file should stay in storage or be destroyed, because you have already gone through the issues and identified the rules to apply. It can actually reduce your malpractice premiums to have such a policy in place, and it allows you to point to that policy if anyone ever questions why a file has been destroyed. It also provides a basis for setting client expectations on file retention from the opening of a new engagement through the destruction of the file..."

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February 19, 2014

A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Trip to Rock Bottom and Back-The Lawyerist

There are two primary outcomes in a desperate struggle with addiction. The first is to keep going until you die. The second is to get caught.

After roughly a year and a half of active addiction to cocaine, Chuck Ramsay appeared to have decided upon the first. He looked in the mirror, admitted to himself he had a problem, but didn't know how to keep living without coke. So he decided he would just keep using - keep using coke until he died.

Read about his journey to recovery.

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March 17, 2014

NYSBA | Mandatory Reporting Campaign

Office of the President

David Schraver

Since 2004, the New York State Bar Association has strongly opposed any requirement that New York lawyers report their voluntary pro bono service or contributions to public authorities.  We firmly believe that requiring such reporting dilutes the voluntary nature of lawyers' pro bono service.  Lawyers should provide pro bono service because they recognize the critical importance of access to justice and lawyers' unique ability to assist - not because they feel pressured into doing so.

I encourage you to write to the Chief Judge, the Chief Administrative Judge, and the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions to express opposition to this requirement.  We have set up a webpage with contact information, a sample letter, and a link to send an e-mail message directly to the Chief Judge to express your opposition.  Go to


David M. Schraver, President

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March 21, 2014

Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client-ABA Journal


Gilsdorf "published damning evidence on the Internet with little to no thought or discussion of the possible consequences to his client," the Review Board said. "His conduct threatened the fairness of a criminal proceeding and harmed his client."


Prior coverage: "Should lawyer who posted video implicating client be disciplined?" "Ethics Complaint Claims Lawyer Tried to Sway Potential Jurors by Posting Discovery Video on YouTube"

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April 29, 2014

Appellate Divisions Announce New Requirements for Retainer Agreements

All four of the Appellate Divisions recently adopted a new rule governing contingent fees in claims and actions for personal injury and wrongful death. The new rule is mandatory. The rules for the respective Appellate Divisions are: First Judicial Department (22 N.Y.C.R.R. Section 603.7[e]); Second Judicial Department (22 N.Y.C.R.R. Section 691.20[e]); Third Judicial Department (22 N.Y.C.R.R. Section 806.13[c]); and Fourth Judicial Department (22 N.Y.C.R.R. Section 1022.31[c]). Lawyers should be aware that the language varies slightly among the different Judicial Departments. Please note, these changes do NOT apply to medical malpractice cases, which are NOT subject to the new rules and must be handled in accordance with NYS Judiciary Law 474-a.


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May 12, 2014

ProBono | Northern District of New York | United States District Court

Chief Judge Gary L. Sharpe announces the creation of a new section on the Northern District of New York's web page dedicated to honoring those bar members who have provided pro bono service to Northern District litigants who were unable to afford legal representation.  Unfortunately, these difficult economic times have increased the number of litigants attempting to pursue a cause of action pro se.  Without the public service of these dedicated professionals, the legal needs of the underprivileged may have gone unfulfilled.

The pro bono honor roll can be accessed via the following link:

Members of the Northern District Bar are invited to consider volunteering for a pro bono assignment.  The typical assignment takes place after all discovery and dispositive deadlines have passed and the case is about to proceed to trial.  While these cases can be challenging, they provide attorneys with a unique and invaluable trial experience which often pays dividends in the future.  If you would like to be considered for a pro bono assignment or have any questions about the Northern District's Local Rule requiring pro bono service, please feel free to contact Larry Baerman, Clerk of the Court, at 315-234-8516 and he will be glad to assist you.

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May 18, 2014

Title Insurance Agent Licensing-NYSTA


New York had been one of three states that did not license or register title insurance agents. The NYSLTA has advocated for agent licensing for many years. In that time, we have drafted several pieces of legislation and lobbied both the legislature and the former Insurance Department.

The Administration Title Agent Licensing Bill of 2014
On January 21, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his budget. The budget bill included a change to the Insurance Law to license title insurance agents.

This bill - designated S6357-D Part V / A8557-D Part V - was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo on April 1, 2014.

Click here to download S6357-D Part V/A8557-D Part V

Click here to download the NYSLTA Memorandum in Support of S6357-D Part V/A8557-D Part V

Click here to download the NYSLTA News Release on Title Agent Licensin

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May 20, 2014


The NYS/ Federal Judicial Council is sponsoring a free CLE class in Manhattan and via webcast on Wednesday, May 21st, at 7:30pm. The topic of the CLE is:

Ethical Issues in Plea Bargaining: The Implications of  Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper

Two NYS CLE credits in Ethics will be given. Registration is limited to 250, in person, attendees. Registration for this CLE is done via:

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June 7, 2014

Legal Loop: 3 more states weigh in on ethics of cloud computing | NY Daily Record

Nicole Black:  ...The good news is that cloud computing use by lawyers has become much more common and as a result more jurisdictions are tackling the issue of the ethics of cloud computing. However, because of the increasing number of opinions being issued, it turns out that there were a few helpful opinions issued over the past year or so that I have not yet covered So, I figured now was as good a time as ever [for]...the decisions issued by ethics committees in Maine, Ohio and Washington.

Read more:


For a complete list of all U.S. ethics opinions on cloud computing, see Bob Ambrogi's recent blog post at Lawsites:


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July 14, 2014

Lawyers may look at what jurors post online, but only if it's available to the public-ABA Journal


The gist of Formal Opinion 466 is that, within the context of Model Rule 3.5, a lawyer may review a juror's or potential juror's various postings on websites and social media. But the lawyer should not send jurors or prospective jurors a request for access, either directly or indirectly, to their social media accounts because doing so would amount to a violation of the prohibition in Model Rule 3.5(b) against ex parte communications with jurors that are not authorized by law or court order.

In a footnote, the ethics committee states that it "does not take a position on whether the standard of care for competent lawyer performance requires using Internet research to locate information about jurors that is relevant to the jury selection process. We are also mindful of the recent addition of Comment [8] to Model Rule 1.1. This comment explains that a lawyer 'should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.' "


The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion 466(PDF), issued April 24.

Read entire ABA Journal article here.

September 6, 2014

Judge orders lawyer to put on socks-ABA Journal


Told by an Indiana judge that a local court rule requires lawyers to wear socks, Todd Glickfield resisted.

"I hate socks," he told Blackford Circuit Judge Dean Young, who at first saw to it that the attorney was privately advised during a break about the need to don the footwear.

After Glickfield said he didn't intend to comply with the no-socks rule unless it was proven to him, Young documented their conversation in an Aug. 26 court order.


Above the Law provides a copy of the court order (PDF).

Read More.

November 3, 2014

Bankuptcy Basics--4 Free CLE Credits

Please join the CNYBBA and NDNY-FCBA in announcing this free CLE program opportunity:
Bankruptcy Basics 
4 FREE CLE Credits 
In exchange for agreement to either:  

(i)  act as counsel in a personally filed pro bono case or one that the court       assigns

(ii) act as a mentor to a less experienced attorney who makes the agreement under option (i).


Friday, November 21, 2014
8:30 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
Registration 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
James M. Hanley U.S. Courthouse
100 South Clinton Street, 2nd Floor
Syracuse, New York
Moderated By:
Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge
Experienced Panel:
Attorneys Mary Fangio and
Susan Esce; Guy Van Baalen,
Asst. U.S. Trustee and /or
Erin Champion; Emily North,
Esq. of Legal Aid Society of
Mid-New York; Prof. Gregory
Germain, Syracuse University;
and Dina Ventura, Bankruptcy
Court Training Specialist

NDNY-Federal Court Bar Association
(315) 422-2799

November 8, 2014

Legal Loop: Another NYSBA decision on virtual law offices | NY Daily Record-Nicole Black

NYSBA Ethics Opinion 1025 (full text)

The committee then clarified its conclusion: "In whatever manner the courts resolve the statutory issues regarding virtual law offices -- and we express no opinion on how they will or should resolve those issues -- neither Rule 7.1(h) nor any other advertising rule imposes or defines the contours of an attorney's office or style of practice. To the extent N.Y. State 756 and 964 opine that Rule 7.1(h) or its predecessor imposes an obligation for a physical office, they are modified. We now conclude that an attorney who is admitted to practice in New York but who is not resident in New York and who advertises his or her law practice in New York must include the address of the attorney's principal office, which may be the Internet address of a virtual law office."

Read more:

New York Bar Recognizes that Virtual Lawyers May Be More Accessible to Clients - My Shingle-Carolyn Elefant

At the same time, the Opinion makes clear that "there are no virtual office exceptions" to a lawyers' ethical responsibilities. Thus, lawyers operating a virtual office must disclose that they don't have a physical office and must ensure that the services they provide are competently delivered. - Read more 

December 9, 2014

Senate Intelligence Committee Study on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program - Issues - United States Senator Dianne Feinstein

(Patience may be required as there appears to be a significant demand for the documents)

Key Resources

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein on December 9, 2014, released the executive summary of the committee's five-year review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. The release included redacted versions of the committee's executive summary and findings and conclusions, as well as additional and minority views authored by members of the committee.


December 19, 2014

NYSBA | Changes to Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting Requirement

Office of the President

New York attorneys will report their pro bono hours anonymously in the future--as was recommended by the House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association.

The Office of Court Administration issued this statement on Dec. 18, 2014:

Today the Administrative Board of the Courts unanimously approved modifications to the mandatory pro bono reporting framework in New York, consistent with the recommendations of Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti and NYS Bar Association President Glenn Lau-Kee that were an outgrowth of their recent discussions on the subject.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said that he is confident that mandatory pro bono reporting in New York "will provide the Court System and the bar with the information that we need to chart a course that promotes pro bono work by the legal community very much in the spirit of our noble profession."

State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee observed: "I am pleased the court system has responded to the concerns of the New York State Bar Association and other bar associations. The compromise is the outcome of collegial and productive discussions between representatives of the court system and State Bar leaders, which bode well for our future working relationship."

The earlier rule, which took effect in May 2013, required attorneys to report their pro bono hours and charitable donations to legal service organizations when completing their biennial registration forms.

The Administrative Board of the Courts adopted a resolution to amend the requirement as follows:  

  • Attorneys still are required to report their pro bono hours and charitable donations, but they will report the information anonymously.
  • The information will be made public only on an aggregate basis.
  • The courts will broaden pro bono and public service categories on the reporting form.
  • All reported pro bono information submitted prior to the requirement change will be designated confidential. 

The changes were recommended by the House of Delegates at its November meeting. 

Details of the changes will be available at a future date. 

Glenn Lau-Kee, President

January 19, 2015

Washington state moves around UPL, using legal technicians to help close the justice gap

Robert Ambrogi has written a comprehensive survey of moves across the country in the use of legal technicians.  You might be surprised (or not) to learn that New York Sate is in the forefront of this movement.

"Even with whatever success we've had with public funding of legal services and pro bono work by lawyers, there is still a gaping hole in our system of providing legal services to the poor and people of limited means," says New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who has emerged as a leading advocate of allowing nonlawyers to provide limited services.

"We need to think out of the box and look at every possible avenue for filling this justice gap," Lippman says. "You can get nonlawyers who are experts in a particular area of legal assistance and who can be more effective in that area than a generalist lawyer."

In May 2013, Lippman appointed a committee with the specific charge of studying this issue, the Committee on Non-Lawyers and the Justice Gap. He asked the committee to focus on the use of nonlawyers in housing, elder law and consumer credit cases--areas where as many as 90 percent of litigants in the New York courts are without lawyers.


The recommendations of this committee resulted in Lippman's launch in February 2014 of a pilot program in which nonlawyers, called navigators, provide free assistance to unrepresented litigants in housing cases in Brooklyn and consumer debt cases in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Navigators provide a range of assistance, from general information given at help desks to one-on-one help completing legal forms and assisting in settlement negotiations.

Navigators may also accompany unrepresented litigants into the courtroom. While they are not allowed to act as advocates in court, they are able to answer questions from the judge and to provide the litigants "moral support."

In Albany, Lippman created a second project that uses nonlawyers to advise elderly and homebound residents about their eligibility for benefits and other services...


Read Ambrogi's complete article with more about New York programs by clicking the link below:

January 22, 2015

Federal Complaint against Sheldon Silver

US v. Sheldon Silver Complaint.pdf

The criminal complaint filed against the speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver. 

February 16, 2015

iMessage and FaceTime: Two-factor authentication - how to turn on | BGR



In order to enable two-factor authentication on iMessage and FaceTime, you should check out Apple's handy guide and FAQ at this link and head on over to this Apple IDpage to get things started. Also important is getting and securing your Recovery Key that comes with two-factor authentication activation -- this extensive report explains what happens when this extremely sensitive piece of information is lost in case someone tries to use your Apple ID on other devices.


March 6, 2015

New York Court Watcher: Preet Bharara on Sheldon Silver: Prosecutorial Ethics?

Is U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara behaving more like a politician or like a prosecutor bound by the rules of legal ethics?
Do his press conferences, speeches, interviews, and other public comments about Sheldon Silver, the now-indicted former Speaker of the New York Assembly, sound more like he's running for elected office, or like a prosecutor who is abiding by the ethical restrictions on over-zealous, prejudicial out-of-court statements?

March 21, 2015

The Duty of Technology Competence and What It Means for E-Discovery

Robert Ambrogi be moderating this free webinar next Wednesday March 25, 2015, which will discuss the evolving duty of technology competence in the context of e-discovery.

An interactive webinar on what this means in practical terms for law firms and in-house counsel: 

  • The legal/ethics groundwork for the duty of technological competence 
  • Biggest "danger areas" and most common mistakes 
  • Why it takes a team to manage the 9 aspects of e-discovery 
  • How to best manage the transition to technology assisted review
  • How to best manage the transition to technology assisted review (and why Continuous Active Learning is such a hot topic now)

Lawyer and veteran legal journalist Robert Ambrogi will interview Catalyst's professional services team to get insight on the key issues and what they wish people knew about e-discovery. 

Sign up here.

March 30, 2015

AMICI - N.Y. State Courts

The "Amici" podcast series was created to share information and insight from New York's judges and the Unified Court System with constituents, stakeholders and anyone else who might have an interest in these topics. 

In these brief programs you'll find:

  • Interviews with judges and other participants in the justice system
  • Commentary on current issues of interest to the bench, bar and public

Just click on a title and your computer's audio player should automatically begin the program. Additionally, using your mouse, you can 'right click' on podcast titles, save them to your desktop or other file and import them to your MP3 player.

If you have a suggestion for a topic on Amici, call John Caher at 518-453-8669 or 
send him a note at


Enjoy the first Amici Podcast:

  • Indigent Legal Services: A Discussion with William Leahy

April 5, 2015

New York County Issues Ethics Opinion Clarifying Rules on Lawyers' Use of LinkedIn - Legal Ease Blog


Last week, the New York County Lawyers Association Professional Ethics Committee released Formal Opinion 748, addressing the ethical implications of lawyers' use of LinkedIn

April 12, 2015

Dropbox is Not "Insecure"

by Sam Glover on 


"...Asking whether Dropbox is secure or not is asking the wrong question. What you need to figure out is (1) what security measures does Dropbox take, and (2) are you and your clients comfortable with those security measures. Most lawyers aren't sufficiently technologically competent to accurately assess the first question, much less decide the second -- and that is a problem. But maybe I can help a bit with that..."

May 4, 2015

U S v Skelos 15 Mag 1492 (Filed)

U S v Skelos 15 Mag 1492 (Filed) by JosefaVelasquez

May 6, 2015

New York to Move to Uniform Bar Exam - Legal Ease Blog

Allison C. Shields:

Despite opposition from many lawyers and bar associations throughout the state, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced today that New York State will begin administering the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) beginning in July of 2016.

According to this article, Lippman made the announcement at a Law Day celebration in Albany, claiming that the adoption of the UBE will allow New York to remain the gold standard for the profession, and stating that it will allow New York law graduates greater portability and flexibility of their law licenses.

Read more:

May 21, 2015

Benitez v United Home of N.Y. LLC

2015_30794 by Leonard E Sienko Jr

Decision of Interest - Professional Responsibility - Bank awarded summary judgment on liability against closing attorneys who failed to disclose subject premises did not have certificate of occupancy

May 30, 2015

Green Tree Servicing LLC Will Pay $63 Million to Settle FTC, CFPB Charges | Federal Trade Commission

The FTC and CFPB allege that Green Tree Servicing LLC made illegal and abusive debt collection calls to consumers, misrepresented the amounts people owed, and failed to honor loan modification agreements between consumers and their prior servicers, among other charges.

Under the proposed settlement, Green Tree will pay $48 million to affected consumers and a $15 million civil penalty. The company also will stop its alleged illegal practices, create a home preservation plan for some distressed homeowners, and take rigorous steps to ensure that it collects the correct amounts from consumers.


The FTC and CFPB allege that Green Tree Servicing LLC made illegal and abusive debt collection calls to consumers, misrepresented the amounts people owed, and failed to honor loan modification agreements between consumers and their prior servicers, among other charges.

Under the proposed settlement, Green Tree will pay $48 million to affected consumers and a $15 million civil penalty. The company also will stop its alleged illegal practices, create a home preservation plan for some distressed homeowners, and take rigorous steps to ensure that it collects the correct amounts from consumers.


June 10, 2015

New York State-Federal Judicial Council and the Second Circuit Judicial Council Are Pleased to Present a Complimentary CLE Program

Presentations will address ethical and substantive standards for the application of attorney-client privilege and work product protection in civil and criminal litigation, in the corporate context, with respect to employees and former employees, joint defense agreements, and the witness/advocate rule. The Panels will address the practical application of those standards in state and federal court litigation, rules addressing inadvertent production and waiver, privilege logs, claw-back agreements, assertions of privilege/work product during depositions, common waiver scenarios, in camera review and dispute resolution issues. Courses will earn three New York State CLE Credits (1.5 Hours Ethics and 1.5 Hours Practice Credits). 

Both Programs will also be available via webcast. Please register for the Programs at 


****Northern District of New York: Thursday, June 4, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM 
James M. Hanley Federal Building, Jury Assembly Room, 100 S. Clinton St., Syracuse, NY 13261 
R.S.V.P. by May 29, 2015 for Northern District of New York Program 

****Eastern District of New York: Thursday, June 18, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM 
Theodore Roosevelt U.S. Courthouse, Ceremonial Courtroom, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY 11201 
R.S.V.P. by June 12, 2015 for Eastern District of New York Program 

Please see the revised information available here:

June 14, 2015

Marijuana businesses need lawyers, but how do you build that practice? (podcast with transcript)

In this month's "Asked and Answered", Seattle lawyer Ryan Espegard chats with the ABA Journal's Stephanie Francis Ward about how he advises the marijuana industry--being mindful of state and federal regulation--and what sorts of business development activities have worked for him.

June 15, 2015


Summary of proposed new 11 NYCRR 227 (Insurance Regulation 208).

This rule interprets and implements Insurance Law section 6409(d) by delineating certain expenditures

that, when provided by title insurance corporations or title insurance agents to "current or prospective customers" as an inducement for title insurance business, are prohibited by the Insurance Law. The rule mandates new reporting requirements to exclude all prohibited expenditures from the rates, thereby ensuring that these expenditures do not contribute to excessive rates. The rule further sets parameters with respect to ancillary charges, ensuring that title insurance corporations and title insurance agents do not charge consumers in New York improper and excessive closing costs .


The proposed regulation prohibits "pick up fees" for closers.  This should add to the cost of closings and delay transactions.


Date Published in State Register: May 06, 2015

Contact: Ellen Buxbaum

June 20, 2015

Vincent J. Gallo, Esq.: In Defense of Title Closers. - Richmond County Bar Association, Est. 1909


At the closing, the Title Closer is entrusted with transmitting by over-night delivery the payment in full satisfactory to satisfy the mortgage in full, at the risk to the Title Closer of these funds being insufficient to satisfy the mortgage, in full, at the further risk of the Lender returning these funds back to the Title Agency as being insufficient to satisfy the mortgage, with the clock continuing to run on a per diem basis, at the risk to the Title Closer in having to go in pocket to make up the difference, so as to not cause the mortgage to satisfied late, causing a late fee to be imposed as against the mortgagor, as well as a "black mark" on the mortgagor's credit report.

For this task, the Title Closer is paid what is referred to as a "pick up fee".  This is a fee paid to the Title Closer, not for the ministerial task of placing the check in an over-night envelope, but instead to serve as a "quasi-insurer" to ensure that all of the above tasks are fully executed on, to full completion, at the risk of potentially costing the Title Closer a small fortune for failing to execute on all, and I do mean ALL, of these above tasks.

For this, in an effort to save a Seller the pickup fee charge of 275.00, more or less, the Department of Financial Services wants to eliminate this charge, thereby preventing a Seller who must pay off his or her mortgage at a closing from having to pay this charge.



June 24, 2015

Public Hearings on Eligibility for Assignment of Counsel-ILS

In accordance with the settlement agreement between the State of New York and a plaintiff class represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union in Hurrell-Harrina et at. v. State of New York and approved by the Albany County Supreme Court, the Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) is charged with developing and issuing criteria and procedures to guide courts in counties located outside of New York City in determining whether a person is unable to afford counsel and eligible for mandated representation.

In furtherance of this responsibility, ILS will conduct a series of public hearings in each of the nine (9) judicial districts outside of New York City to solicit the views of county officials, judges, institutional providers of representation, assigned counsel, current and former indigent legal services clients and other individuals, programs, organizations and stakeholders interested in assisting ILS in establishing criteria and procedures to guide courts when determining eligibility for mandated legal representation in criminal and family court proceedings.  The first of these hearings will be in Syracuse, New York on July 9.

For more information, and instructions for providing written or oral testimony, go to:  Please feel free to contact me (or any member of the ILS staff) if you have questions about the hearings.

                      Take good care,

Angela Olivia Burton, Esq.

Director of Quality Enhancement, Parent Representation

New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services

80 South Swan Street, 29th Floor

Albany, New York 12210

Desk:  518-474-4859

Cell:  518-491-0094

Fax:  518-474-0505

July 2, 2015

Discovery Report

A report from the Committee on Professional Discipline relating to the availability of discovery in attorney disciplinary proceedings has been posted in the Reports Community. In order for this report to be submitted to the Chief Judge's Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline, the Executive Committee plans to take up this report in a conference call meeting during the summer. Accordingly, if you wish to comment on this report, your comments should be submitted no later than July 23, 2015. Comments may be posted in the Reports Community, or e-mailed to, or e-mailed to

Discovery Report by Leonard E Sienko Jr

July 20, 2015

How National Licensing Could Help Close the Justice Gap

By Jenny Odegard

South Dakota is leading the charge on relocating new attorneys to under-served communities by offering a stipend of $12,000 per year for five years. This number is meant to nearly cover the cost of attending their local university's law school, which should be a tempting offer for hundreds of newly licensed attorneys looking for an opportunity to make an impact. Yet this program has a modest goal of recruiting only 17 attorneys by the year 2017.

The Uniform Bar Exam is a nationalized test with a portable score to all of the states that have adopted the test. While the UBE is not a nationally portable law license, it is an opportunity to apply for admission without having to sit for an additional full bar exam.

Sixteen states, most recently including New York, have now adopted the test. States still conduct their own character and fitness evaluation, and most require a shorter, less burdensome local education requirement. States also set their own passing score, which means test takers may not be certified for admission in the state they took the exam but could qualify elsewhere without retaking it.


Read entire article here.

August 16, 2015

Lawyer who billed clients for watching true-crime shows is suspended-ABA Journal

A "doggedly unrepentant" lawyer who billed her wrongful death clients for watching reality crime TV shows has been suspended for a year from law practice.

The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the suspension of Knoxville lawyer Yarboro Sallee, who was accused of billing her clients hourly fees of more than $140,000 for less than three months of work and insisting that they pay a contingency fee as well. The Legal Profession Blog, the Chattanoogan and the Knoxville News Sentinel have stories. The July 23 opinion is here (PDF).


From the Decision:

In her motion, Attorney Sallee also objected to the trial court's comment that she "watched TV and charged her client for it." She characterized this statement as "ridiculous," adding, "since when is television not a respectable avenue for research anyway." Attorney Sallee pointed to a particular time entry on her "billing statement" as legitimate billable time because it was spent watching a five-hour documentary on the Peterson "Stair Case Murder" in North Carolina. Her motion did not address a 12.5-hour time entry on September 25, 2010, for watching "48 Hours" episodes on similar spousal homicides, a 4.0-hour time entry on October 19, 2010 for watching four "48 Hours" episodes on asphyxia, or a 3.5-hour time entry on October 20, 2010 for watching these same "48 Hours" episodes a second time. At Attorney Sallee's regular hourly rate, this would amount to over $5,000 for watching episodes of "48 Hours." 


Read entire article here.

September 25, 2015

Commission Calls for Uniform Lawyer Discipline Standards | New York Law Journal

A commission appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman recommended Friday that uniform standards for attorney discipline and punishment be adopted throughout New York state and follow guidelines developed by the American Bar Association.

While the existing machinery of disciplining attorneys would remain in place in each of the four Appellate Division departments, adopting uniform discipline rules would ensure that lawyers from Long Island to Buffalo would be subject to the same punishments for the same misconduct, according to the recommendations of the Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline.

Read more:

November 5, 2015

Proposed Uniform Attorney Discipline Rules

The state Office of Court Administration seeks comments on the proposedtUniform Rules of the Appellate Division on Attorney Discipline. The proposed rules, announced November 4, 2015, offer "a harmonized approach to the attorney disciplinary process within the four Departments of the Appellate Division," according to OCA.

"Our Committee on Professional Discipline will review the proposal and make recommendations to our Executive Committee. We will submit our comments prior to the December 18 deadline," said New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda.  NYSBA members can email comments to the Association at:

The proposed OCA rules are available by clicking here and scrolling down.

January 5, 2016

New Rules

New uniform attorney disciplinary rules, announced by outgoing Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on Dec. 29, 2015, will standardize the system throughout the state.

January 9, 2016

Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance-IRS

 Remember to Update Computer Firewalls and Virus Protection

With the filing season right around the corner, it's the perfect time for basic computer safety and maintenance to secure your system and help prevent identity theft. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your client's stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.  Your computer files and account information may also provide a treasure trove of information for thieves, which is why protecting your own computer and logging on to secure computer systems is so important. 

    • Be sure to protect electronic taxpayer information systems connected to the Internet with a barrier device (e.g., firewall, router or gateway) to prevent the unauthorized release of taxpayer data. 
    • Regularly update firewall, intrusion detection, anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-virus software and security patches.
    • Monitor computer systems for unauthorized access by reviewing system logs.

Taxes. Security. Together -- We all have a role to play in protecting taxpayer data.  For more information, visit the IRS identity protectionpage. 

Follow IRS guidelines for protecting taxpayer information. Online providers must report unauthorized disclosures within one business day. Resources for tax preparers

January 19, 2016

Email Hacking On The Rise: What's A Lawyer To Do? - MyCase Blog


Last week the ABA Journal reported on a new hacker scheme that targets lawyers' confidential client emails. It's a new type of fraud aimed at lawyers where the hackers intercept emails between real estate attorneys and their clients and then use the information obtained from the emails to steal closing funds.

Hackers use the information they steal for so-called spear phishing--mimicking the real email addresses of buyers, sellers, counsel and real estate companies, they send email directing those involved in real estate closings to transmit funds to bank accounts controlled by the hackers.


January 31, 2016

NSA's top hacking boss explains how to protect your network from his attack squads • The Register

Iain Thomson


Usenix Enigma The United States National Security Agency (NSA) is a notoriously secretive organization, but the head of its elite Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking team has appeared at Usenix's Enigma conference to tell the assembled security experts how to make his life difficult.

Rob Joyce has spent over a quarter of a century at No Such Agency and in 2013 he became head of TAO, with responsibility for breaking into non-US computer networks run by overseas companies and governments. Joyce's presentation on network security at the event boiled down to one piece of advice.

"If you really want to protect your network you have to know your network, including all the devices and technology in it," he said. "In many cases we know networks better than the people who designed and run them."


Read entire article here.

March 19, 2016

Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers. But now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information.

 YouTube: Telephone and Phishing Scams

Help get the word out to taxpayers about scam phone calls and emails by sharing these consumer warnings:

April 22, 2016

Pace Criminal Justice Blog -- Recent #NYCA Decisions: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Pace Criminal Justice Blog has posted a new item, 'Recent #NYCA Decisions:
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel'

The New York Court of Appeals has been busy on the criminal procedure front.
Last month it decided several cases, including three that addressed the issue
of ineffective assistance of defense counsel. In one, the court held that
counsel had been ineffective in failing to move to suppress a gun. In the second
and third, the [...]

You may view the latest post at

April 26, 2016

Schoenefeld v. State of New York

Full Text of Decision.

The court upheld N.Y. Judiciary Law § 470, requiring nonresident attorneys to maintain offices in New York State. Noting that more than 20,000 NYSBA members reside or practice outside the state, President David P. Miranda formed a working group to review the decision.

May 27, 2016

What Lawyers Should Know About Cloud Computing Security Standards - Legal Talk Network

What Lawyers Should Know About Cloud Computing Security Standards

The large volume of data that many law firms handle makes utilizing cloud computing services a very enticing prospect. What ethical standards should lawyers expect these companies to abide by? What should lawyers look for in a cloud computing provider?

In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway speak with Clio founder and CEO Jack Newton and Rocket Matter founder and CEO Larry Port about cloud computing and the new cloud security standards for legal professionals released by the Legal Cloud Computing Association. Larry explains what the LCCA is and how it formed out of a need to educate lawyers about what is happening in the cloud. Jack provides some insight into the creation of the security standards, such as terms of service privacy policies and encryption, and states that with these standards as a baseline lawyers will be able to more easily assess if a cloud computing provider is adhering to certain ethical standards. Larry also lists a few factors lawyers should consider, like where the SaaS data center is located, and the four things (vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and aesthetic code and dynamic code reviews) that the standards require in security testing. They both end the interview with an analysis of in-transit and at rest encryption and the benefits and drawbacks of zero knowledge level security.


June 25, 2016

Email scam targets lawyers with fake disciplinary warnings, bar announcements--ABA Journal

Lawyers across the country should be on the lookout for phishing emails, which purport to be about new discipline investigations.More than 50 attorneys have received the emails, which have links to malicious software, says Molly Flood, research and information manager with the ABA's Division for Bar Services. She suspects that senders get email addresses through the websites of state bars that also handle attorney regulation.


"They also dummied up a webpage, that looked like it was our website," says Francine Walker, the Florida Bar's director of public information. Besides using unpaid bar dues and discipline complaints as a ruse, some of the emails claimed that the bar changed its fee schedule.

July 18, 2016

JURIST - When Prosecutors Parade, Criminal Justice Becomes a Circus

JURIST Guest Columnists Stephen Cooper and Donnie W. Bethel discuss the effect of the behavior of Prosecutors who parade their cases to the media has on the Criminal Justice system...


Prosecutors routinely call conferences to vet prosecution evidence under the glow of the media's klieg lights--as occurred in the much-publicized Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery case in Netflix's Making A Murderer--tainting the jury pool and infringing on Avery and Dassey's constitutional right to a fair trial (as ably reported upon earlier this year in John Ferak's column, "Legal experts blast Avery prosecutor's conduct.")

The same questionable litigation tactics, dressed up in federal garb, are on full display in Jeffrey Toobin's May 9 article in The New Yorker, appropriately called, "The Showman," about United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara's infatuation with and misuse of the media.


Read more here.

The Showman - The New Yorker

 Jeffrey Toobin's May 9 article in The New Yorker, appropriately called, "The Showman," about United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara's infatuation with and misuse of the media.

July 19, 2016


We received a report of a member getting an unauthorized phone solicitation offering six months' free New York State Bar Association membership. Please be advised that the Association is not engaged in telephone solicitations at this time. Although this is likely an isolated incident, if you receive such a call, do not share any personal information, and please let us know immediately by calling our Member Resource Center at 800.582.2452.

August 10, 2016

ABA Free Legal Answers is a website where members of the public can go to post basic legal questions that attorneys can answer for free.  The client can create an account on the website after completing a short screening questionnaire to determine if they qualify (based on income), and agreeing to the limited scope of representation that the website offers.  Similarly, any attorney in New York can create an account on the website after completing a brief limited scope representation tutorial (developed by Judge Fern Fisher) and agreeing to the terms of the program.

Attorneys may, at their leisure, log on to the website and respond to questions posted by members of the public.  Attorneys may select which questions to answer by previewing questions, which can be sorted by practice area so they can easily see which questions fall within their areas expertise. 

This will allow attorneys of all types to do pro bono work from any location for any length of time.  This will provide attorneys who may have difficulty doing pro bono work (government attorneys, retired attorneys, rural attorneys, etc.) an opportunity to do pro bono work in a way that fits their lifestyles. will be going live at the end of August.  In order to adequately test out the platform and respond to questions submitted by members of the public in its early stages, I am seeking out 100 volunteers who are interested in learning more about the project and using the site.  The target launch date is currently scheduled for August 23rd.  If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, please fill out this form and send it back to me.  You may also share the form with any trusted colleagues who may be interested in participating.

Please note that there is absolutely no obligation here.  I am simply seeking out people who are interested in learning more about the project so that I may provide them with more information about it closer to the launch date.  At that point, I can provide more guidance to those participating in the test panel so they know exactly how the site works and what to expect - most likely via a memo and conference call for those who are available for one.

To access a power point presentation and video demonstration of the national free legal answers platform, please go to:

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.



Kristen Wagner Esq.
Director, Pro Bono Services
New York State Bar Association
Albany NY
(518) 487-5640

September 12, 2016

Northern District Pro Bono Opportunities

Dear Northern District Bar Members, 

The Court currently has three opportunities for attorneys to volunteer as pro bono counsel for trial ready cases. Please refer to L.R. 83.3 regarding the establishment of the Pro Bono Panel of the Northern District of New York. The following cases are currently awaiting pro bono counsel:

1. 9:15-cv-771 (GTS/TWD) Lewis v. Cowan et al (Syracuse Trial) 

2. 9:15-cv-317 (GTS/TWD) Peele v. Donah et al (Syracuse Trial)

3. 9:06-cv-1308 (FJS/DEP) Kotler v. Jubert et al (Syracuse Trial) 
*Stand-by Counsel only. Trial is set for 10/19/2016

Please remember that pursuant to Local Rule 83.3 (g) attorneys who accept a pro bono appointment may seek reimbursement for expenses incident to representation of indigent clients by application to the Court. Reimbursement or advances shall be permitted to the extent possible in light of available resources and, absent extraordinary circumstances, shall not exceed $2,000.

If any firms or counsel are interested in one of the above opportunities, please contact Nicole Eallonardo in the Clerk's Office, at for further information. Accepting one of the above assignments will fulfill the requirement under Local Rule 83.3. Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Thank you,
Lawrence K. Baerman, Clerk of Court

September 30, 2016

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for defiance over same-sex marriage - The Washington Post



Alabama's top judge was suspended from the bench without pay for the remainder of his term, the state's Court of the Judiciary said Friday.

This is the second time Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been effectively pulled from office, following his ouster in 2003 over his refusal to obey judicial rulings ordering him to remove a Ten Commandments statue from the Alabama Judicial Building.

A complaint was filed by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission charging Moore with violating judicial ethics in issuing an order in January stating that probate judges in the state "have a ministerial duty not to issue" marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In a 50-page judgment Friday, two days after Moore appeared for a hearing in the case, Alabama's Court of the Judiciary found him guilty of failing to comply with the law, uphold the integrity of the court and "perform the duties of his office impartially."


November 1, 2016

Court of Appeals Declines to Reinstate Ex-Attorney Joel Brandes | New York Law Journal

The state's highest court will not intervene to restore the law license of Joel Brandes, an ex-attorney found to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in defiance of a disbarment order.

In a brief, unsigned ruling Tuesday, the Court of Appeals said that just as the Appellate Division, Second Department, disbarred Brandes in 2002, his reinstatement is primarily at the discretion of the appellate court.

"Because 'the Appellate Division is the fact finder on issues of character and fitness and its discretion is inclusive,' our standard of review is limited to whether the Second Department abused its discretion," the court said, quoting Matter of Anonymous, 79 NY2d 782 (1991), "Here, because there was record support for the court's decision, there was no abuse of discretion in denying the reinstatement application."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Judges Eugene Pigott Jr., Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Eugene Fahey and Michael Garcia joined in the ruling in Matter of Brandes, 162. Judges Jenny Rivera and Leslie Stein did not take part.

Read entire report...

November 30, 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Issues Alert On Phishing Scam Targeting New York Attorneys |

Warning: Email Phishing Scam

The New York State Bar Association is aware of an email phishing scam that is targeted at attorneys. 
The current email subject line says:  "The Office of The State Attorney Complaint."  No such office exists in New York. 
If you received the email, please delete it immediately. Do not follow any links or open any attachments. If you do, your computer or cell phone could be exposed to a virus. 
The Office of the New York State Attorney General has issued a press release about the scam.  Link:
For more information about how the AG's office handles complaints against businesses, go to:

January 23, 2017


From CREW Press Release:

Washington, DC--When the courts opened at 9 am this morning, a legal dream team officially filed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Donald J. Trump to stop the President from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments.

The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.

CREW is represented in the case by an all-star team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts and litigators who have combined to argue 45 cases before the Supreme Court. The lawyers on the case include CREW's board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, Constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLL

Read more about plaintiff's counsel...



Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202-408-5565 or

February 3, 2017

Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump - POLITICO


Agency employees are turning to Signal and other incognito forms of communication to express their dissent.


The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.


February 5, 2017

Group Turns To Big Law for Major Immigrant Rights Effort | New York Law Journal

, New York Law Journal

Spurred on by President Trump's deportation priorities, a group of big-firm lawyers and nonprofit attorneys has launched a project to represent immigrants nationwide who are at risk for deportation and already has distributed a mass letter to hundreds of large firms seeking donations and pro bono work.

The American Immigrant Representation Project, formed shortly after Trump's election, on Friday wrote to more than 300 lawyers, mostly at Am Law 200 firms and plaintiff firms, spelling out the need for resources and volunteers. The letter asks firms to commit $10,000 and/or designate a partner and three associates who will develop an expertise in the field through the initiative's training and represent those targeted for removal.

"The immigration defense community desperately needs the help of the private bar," the letter said. "We expect thousands of people will need representation, most of whom will be unable to locate or afford counsel.

The letter noted immigrants with counsel are 14 times more likely to successfully challenge removal than those without. "Our vision is to stand ready to provide representation to all those in need."

Read more (may require free subscription)...

February 10, 2017

Foreclosure Litigation Strategy Takes Aim at Seniors, Attorneys Say |



This, defense attorneys say, is a new strategy by lenders and plaintiffs lawyers: sue to foreclose on government-guaranteed home loans under various defaults, then fast-track these suits by filing motions for orders to show cause. These motions shift the burden of proof to the borrower, requiring them to appear in court and explain why a judge shouldn't grant final judgment against them.

"All of a sudden, we saw a spate of foreclosures [on reverse mortgages] where the mortgage companies alleged the seniors no longer lived in the home," said Gladys Gerson, supervising attorney for Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida's senior unit. "This has been happening around the state."


Corona admits he didn't expect a hard fight when he first reviewed El Hassan's case, but court records show he was wrong. Over the last 10 months, the ongoing litigation yielded two hearings, 40 docket entries and attempts by both sides to collect attorney fees.

When he first met El Hassan, Corona expected the plaintiff would realize the error and dismiss the suit. Without charging her or entering a notice of appearance, he placed a phone call to plaintiffs lawyers at Robertson Anschutz & Schneid in Boca Raton to say El Hassan had never moved out of her home.

Robertson Anschutz & Schneid did not respond to requests for comment, but court records show they ratcheted up the litigation with a motion for an order to show cause weeks after Corona's phone call.

"I looked at the document. I couldn't believe it," Corona said. "I was in shock (at) what the bank was trying to do."



February 13, 2017

Yale and Harvard Law Deans Pull No Punches in Op-Ed on Trump |


The deans of Yale Law School and Harvard Law School have joined the growing chorus of lawyers publicly condemning President Donald Trump's attacks on the judiciary.

In a blistering op-ed in The Boston Globe on Friday, Harvard's Martha Minow and Yale's Robert Post wrote that Trump's Twitter-delivered insults against the federal judges who stayed his controversial travel ban risk making the president "an enemy of the law and the Constitution."

"By questioning the legitimacy and authority of judges, Trump seems perilously close to characterizing the law as simply one more enemy to be smashed into submission," the deans wrote. "At risk are the legal practices and protections that guard our freedom and our safety from the mob violence that destroyed democracies in the 1930s."

Trump called U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who initially stayed the travel ban, a "so-called judge" on Twitter. He then went after the appellate panel for leaving Robart's order in place, calling their ruling "disgraceful," among other comments. Last year, Trump accused the judge hearing a lawsuit over his Trump University of bias due to the jurist's Mexican heritage.


Last week, American Bar Association president Linda Klein lambasted Trump's attack on Robart in a fiery speech delivered during the organization's midyear meeting in Miami. "There are no 'so-called' judges in America," Klein said.

"There are simply judges, fair and impartial. And we must keep it that way."



February 16, 2017

NYSBA | Join the NYSBA Lawyer Referral Service.

Reply to GroupReply to Sender
Stacey Whiteley
Feb 15, 2017 4:00 PM
Stacey Whiteley

Good afternoon,

The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) has recently undergone a much anticipated update! The LRIS now features an online 24/7 referral request platform allowing potential clients the ability to request legal services at their convenience. This online platform adds a new level of control for panel attorneys to screen potential clients, while creating a higher level of efficiency in regard to reporting and tracking.

In order for our interested members to have an opportunity to try the new service, the LRIS is offering FREE panel registration for 2017! This is a no hassle, no risk opportunity to determine if being part of the LRIS is right for your practice.

When you're ready to sign up and would like more information, please reach out to our helpful LRIS staff at 1.800.342.3661 or visit: .

Questions, please call 1.800.342.3361.

Stacey Whiteley
Managing Director, Legal and Community Services
New York State Bar Association
Albany NY
(518) 463-3200

May 2, 2017

June 9: Senior Lawyers Section Meet, Greet & Learn

Senior Lawyers Section members in the 6th, 7th and 8th Judicial Districts are invited to a free CLE program and Networking Lunch.

Topic: Ethical issues for senior lawyers including considerations when winding down a practice and when starting a solo practice.

June 9, 2017
11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Nixon Peabody LLP
1300 Clinton Square, 14th Floor
Rochester, NY

MCLE: 1.5 credits in Ethics and Professionalism

10:30 - 11:00 am  - CLE Registration
11:00 am - 12:15pm - CLE Program
12:15 - 2:00 pm - Buffet Lunch


Kathleen Plog
New York State Bar Association (518) 487-5681
Albany, NY

May 12, 2017

Formal Opinion 477--ABA

Formal Opinion 477

May 11, 2017

Securing Communication of Protected Client Information

A  lawyer  generally  may  transmit  information  relating  to  the  representation  of  a  client  over  the internet  without  violating  the  Model Rules  of  Professional  Conduct  where  the  lawyer  has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access. However, a lawyer may  be  required  to  take  special  security  precautions  to  protect  against  the  inadvertent  or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.

requires a higher degree of security.

May 19, 2017

Judge sanctions New York City after lawyer makes 600 objections in one deposition



U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak of Brooklyn ordered the city to pay the deposition costs as a result of the lawyer's conduct, report the New York Law Journal(sub. req.), the New York Daily News and the New York Post.


Sui Generis--a New York law blog: ABA Issues New Opinion On Secure Online Communication With Clients

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at

That's why the ABA issued Formal Opinion 477 on May 11, 2017. In this opinion, the Committee concluded that because there are more secure electronic communication methods available in 2017, lawyers may want to consider avoiding email for many client communications and use other, more secure electronic methods instead.


DOJ Threatens Immigration Rights Lawyers, Demands They Drop Their Clients | Above the Law

The Trump administration tries a scary new tactic to keep lawyers from aiding immigrants.

If you can't beat 'em, bully them with "cease and desist" letters and trumped-up disciplinary accusations. That's apparently the new motto down at the Department of Justice, where the government is lashing out at the immigration rights attorneys who stymied the administration's efforts to implement their travel ban. And it's not just non-profit groups (though those are the first lawyers getting hit); the clever, if diabolical, argument the DOJ has cooked up could be launched to shut down Biglaw attorneys working pro bono matters next. They may have stumbled out of the gate, but this Justice Department came to play hardball, folks.

June 4, 2017

AgileBits Blog | Introducing Travel Mode: Protect your data when crossing borders


Travel Mode is a new feature we're making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked "safe for travel." All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

July 8, 2017

Attorney Registration: Secure Pass ID Cards - N.Y. State Courts

The highlights of the changes in the Attorney Secure Pass program (instituted in 2015) are:

- Attorneys may opt to renew their Secure Pass ID cards by logging on to

- Login will require Attorney Online Services user name & password (same as Attorney Registration and NYSCEF)

- A Secure Pass will now remain valid for 5 years

- The cost of an Attorney Secure Pass will increase from $25 to $50

- Online renewals will use current photo on file

- Online renewals will require only a single courthouse visit to pick -up the new ID Card and verify identity

- Note: Attorneys applying for their first Secure Pass ID Card MUST continue to use the paper form and submit in person and pick -up in person (new paper forms reflecting the new $50.00 cost are available at trial-level courthouses).

July 28, 2017

New York lawyer accused of calling in bomb threat to avoid sanctions hearing


A lawyer in Syracuse, New York, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 4 to enter a plea to allegations that she phoned in a bomb threat to avoid a hearing on an opposing lawyer's request for sanctions against her.


August 4, 2017

Lawyers must take reasonable steps to protect client info in US border searches, ethics opinion says


Lawyers should take reasonable measures to avoid disclosure of client data in the event U.S. border agents search electronic devices, according to an ethics opinion by the New York City Bar. And if confidential or privileged material is disclosed, lawyers will have to notify affected clients.

The reasonable precautions that should be taken in advance will vary based on factors such as the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure, and the cost and difficulty of implementing safeguards, the July 25 opinion says. At the border, lawyers should take reasonable measures when an agent seeks to search a device with confidential information, including making an attempt to dissuade the agent, the opinion says.



August 9, 2017

NYSBA | Ethics Opinions 1131 & 1132

Two new ethics opinions
Sharon Stern Gerstman
Today, our Professional Ethics Committee issued two opinions concerning whether lawyers may ethically participate in electronic marketing services. 
The first one is in response to an inquiry from a lawyer on whether he could participate in Avvo Legal Services, which would require the payment of a "marketing fee."  The opinion finds that a lawyer who pays Avvo a marketing fee is making an improper payment for a recommendation in violation of Rule 7.2(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  Having made this conclusion, the Committee did not address other bases for finding the payment improper or any ethical issues related to Avvo beyond the scope of the inquiry. It noted that "The questions we have addressed have generated vigorous debate both within and outside the legal profession." It said that "at this point we conclude that, under Avvo's current structure, lawyers may not pay Avvo's marketing fee for participating in Avvo Legal Services."  Thus, the opinion clarifies a question that has previously been unanswered in New York. The opinion is Number 1132, and can accessed
The second opinion outlines how a service like Avvo's could be in compliance with New York's Rules of Professional Conduct. It is intended to guide lawyers who wish to use these types of services in the future. The Committee, noting the variation in the structure of many web based services, says in the opinion that it "does not attempt to address every factual permutation that may exist." Rather, it explains how such a service can operate within the Rules and examines the issues that a lawyer using a service needs to consider. The opinion is Number 1131, and can be accessed at
Sharon Stern Gerstman
Sharon Stern Gerstman 
President, New York State Bar Association

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